By Patricia Frischer
Han Nguyen interviewed
by Herein’s Elizabeth Rooklidge for 2021 Medium Festival
I have been following the work of Han Nguyen for years. He was one of our New Contemporary artists as part of the SD Art Prize . And although I would love to see more of the work in person, I did see the Joseph Bellows exhibition and with all the new media, I love tracking new work on Instagram.
This conversation with Elizabeth Rooklidge was so interesting because it revealed that the works are so much more complicated and so much simpler than they appear. How can that happen at the same time? I believe that is because Nguyen starts with a really simple idea. But he thinks he is not a very good photographer so he goes to great lengths to make sure the images are good. The results are more than they first appear because the technique of making them is so much more mysterious. His choices are never traditional. He will do whatever needs to be done no matter how tedious or unconventional. Because of this you get a really intimate result that is totally unique, amazingly sensitive, and 100% authentic.
The idea comes to him first. Maybe it is to explore plants in his yard or to make and photograph some small clay sculptures or to use some old negatives. Then he decides a process. It might start with a digital camera, a Pin hole one, large format, or polaroid. When the result is not what he wants he might add watercolor, tea, rite dye, or he might photoshop it. He might have to invent a whole new technique. He did this with his collages using tiny bits of negatives all taped together using a method filmmakers use. Look close and you can see the tape lines…rather like those old films that have vertical scratches. He is a genius but prefers to think of himself as having a load of happy accidents!
“Glendalys Medina is an Afro-Caribbean Nuyorican conceptual interdisciplinary visual artist who was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx.” ….so it is not surprising that she is looking for an identity that she can claim as her own. And she has done just that by first researching and inventing 50 shapes to create her own personal language. By changing the position, color and grouping of these shapes she has almost an endless repertoire of designs. Printing making is a perfect medium for mirroring these images into even greater combinations.
She makes her own paper and incorporated her bank statements into that process. Paper is age old way of creating wealth and value. And also she uses gold and of course black in many of works. Some of the most exciting results are the sculptures that have resulted from these explorations. The are detailed and unusual which is a good reflection of Medina’s personality. But what I liked most about this interview was the question about what Medina has been doing during the pandemic. She said she is trying to find joy in every day.