Ask Morgana 111: Thu Nguyen

ng0 twitterIt is a very exciting time for realism – and I speak as someone whose main passion as a consumer of art is for 20c expressionism – inasmuch as artists have rediscovered the power of representation. The presence in a work of art of something familiar, a ‘sign’, to use a term from semiotics, does not take away its potential for expression. 20c modernism swept away the conceit that art had to be a mere depiction. The cry of “But what’s it supposed to be?” has died down, and by jingo it took a lot of hard work to throttle it. As a result, when we look at the realist artists of post-modernism, we no longer assume that the depicted subject is all we are supposed to think about, or have feelings about, or experience, or interpret.

Thu Nguyen is a contemporary artist based in Seattle. She specialises in landscapes, cityscapes, ‘plantscapes’, and figurative painting, the latter including some very frank paintings of the expressions on a child’s face. Like many post-modern realists, her use of colour is striking. She has come to my attention on the strength of one single erotic painting, which was a winner in a competition for erotic art. She has executed other paintings with a similar subject (see above right), but this painting (below) is the only one of hers that appears to have a deliberately erotic quality. And it is brilliant. It does not have a photographic quality – that is not necessary to qualify a work as ‘realist’ – however it does show that striking use of colour I mentioned, and her brushwork. To my eye her work illustrates the quotation I used from Gabriel Mark Lipper in an earlier post: “The gifts of modernism: color, form, and abstraction, are now being seamlessly integrated with the craftsmanship and techniques of the past.

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Images reproduced under ‘fair use’ provisions.

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