Solo Exhibition: Matrix

Solo Exhibition: Matrix

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Opening: Wed 28 Oct 2020, 05 pm
Triển lãm: 28 Oct – 15 Nov 2020, 09 am – 12 pm and 01:30 pm – 05:00 pm
VICAS Art Studio
32 Hào Nam, Đống Đa, Hà Nội

From the organizer:

Matrix is a mathematical term, which is outside my field, but I do understand the primary spirit of the author when choosing this term as the title for the exhibition.

First, digital technology is the characteristic of the era we live in, it has positive as well as negative impacts on every corner of life, including the arts. An artist needs to face that fact. It is practically impossible for him to pretend to live in the pre-industrial time and create works of art that have no relation to his times.

Second, in ordinary language, matrix demonstrates the control of deadlock, impasse, confusion and conflict to find out the positive and effective solutions for life. Matrix in artistic creations of Nguyen Son can be seen as the control of internal conflicts with positive emotions.

In terms of art, all works of Nguyen Son can be categorized into two phases:

In the former phase, he painted oil or acrylic on canvas like many other painters. His paintings had a neo-expressive tendency, sometimes surreal, or even futuristic. This line of paintings reveals his high level so remarkably that if he continued this way, he would also be a qualified artist with his own market.

In the present phase, he is making paintings with the main materials of circuit board scraps and acrylic. This line is definitely fussier about the audience but may serve as new contribution to Vietnamese art.

There are two features in Nguyen Son’s artistic works that I would like to introduce:

1. In his latter phase, his paintings are free of reflecting something, either accidentally or intentionally. Instead, he is attracted to the suggestions, logic and aesthetics of the main material – the electronic circuit boards. He develops random pieces of board into a shape and color it logically and aesthetically (according to his mindset and emotions). This way of making art is free from the traditional conception, in which the artistic function is based on “the reflection and the reflected”, that is, the artist is only interested in the internal movement of the very object he is working with. The work, by itself (the reflection) already makes sense, it does not necessarily reflect anything in nature or in life. This is an important feature of contemporary art.

2. For Nguyen Son, the process of creating a work is as interesting as and even more important than the outcome. He confided: “making this kind of paintings is full of pleasure, like being drunk, forgetting about the hot sun, heavy rain, mosquito bites, noise and pollution smell…” and “as soon as finishing a painting, I put it away until needing it again”. I also admire this artist because for him, making art is initially to unleash creative energy for the self, not for money or something sublime. Pure art may flourish in such artists.

VICAS Art Studio is pleased to accompany architect-painter Nguyen Son in his solo exhibition entitled MATRIX.

Media Partner: Hanoi Grapevine
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About artist: Nguyễn Sơn: For me, Art is salvation

More than 200 years of industrial development and more than 30 years of digital technology are too short in comparison with the human beginning and development history, but they have the most powerful impact on the rapid and unpredictable transformation of economy, culture, politics and society. The interaction between digital technology and human life is very clear. The benefits of industry and technology thus cannot be denied.

Every problem has its duality, the more industrial development, the bigger its consequences are: the greenhouse effect causing climate change, the increase of toxic and destructive waste, dangerous incidents in atomic energy development, genetic modification, risks from biological warfare, etc. Similarly, in terms of digital technology, we also have to face negative things that mislead people, such as viruses, hackers, game addiction, social media addiction, etc…

Can people control the development of technology created by themselves? In this context, MATRIX – an algorithm – is the basis for the development while taking control of new technological innovations. The principle of Matrix is to find the laws of massive, turbulent, multi-layered and multidimensional information to find ways to control them, make digital development sustainable and safe, serving the interests of mankind.

One of the characteristic properties of matrix is its magic and ever-changing nature. In an industry 4.0 age, matrices exist in all aspects of life. Every small change in one field will interact with and make change to another, making the spiritual life of humanity increasingly richer but also more complicated.

Art is also not out of this interaction.

Initially, the concept of matrix came to me unconsciously. As an architect, I find there is almost no answer to the question of how to develop a sustainable city that is compatible with the quality of life of its inhabitants. I have a feeling of lacking faith like being lost in a maze. Everyone wants to live in a developed and civilized environment. But I believe that if having to live in such development as Hanoi and Saigon today, many people will wish to back in time to the 90s or beyond, in which life was backward but at least serene and pure.

I returned to painting hoping to find a psychological balance and get away from the mess of life. Over the past six years I had painted a lot of subjects, worked on a variety of materials, not imposed myself on any main philosophy or purpose, though, my paintings, no matter how unintentionally I did, were still haunted by developmental conflicts. Somewhere there were sadness about the negative aspects of the environment, culture, society, economy and politics around us.

Only when I made paintings from circuit boards did I find myself seemingly independent and free from the externalities. It was like I have already mastered the matrix.

The original idea was very simple, I just experimented with making paintings from circuit boards, which were waste of digital technology. The circuit board is hard and very difficult to cut exactly to the desired shape without applying the very digital technology to cut intricate details, so I minimized the cutting but made use of the shape of the core board to develop the painting as a whole. This way was so fascinating to me that I no longer had to focus on determining the shape or idea. I just got lost in connecting boards in a logical way. Then, I used acrylic to give new meaning to the board plates. One of these two materials is rigid patch of random rough shapes while the other is soft and fluid like water, which was poured randomly. It is the randomness of the materials that creates a great contrast but also shows the unity. Being engraved but harmonious, it is itself a matrix. Everything happened quickly with a tendency of random, but it was during the process that emotions of the artist triggered. This made me realize that I was able to both create creative content and control the chaos and disorder of the materials, therefore turning the useless into the useful. That’s an important part of the matrix: figuring out the control method and direct it to the creator’s trajectory and consciousness.

There were times when I felt like being caught up in a “Blind Space” (Không gian mù khơi – name of a music album I composed), but now painting has saved me, made me drunk peacefully and freed me from negative emotion.

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