Nguyen Minh Nam
Born 11/29/1978 Bac Ninh City, Vietnam
B.A. Fine Art, 2008 Vietnam University of Fine Art
“I was born and grew up in an ordinary family in Bac Ninh City - Bac Ninh, Vietnam. I started to study art and learn to paint to express myself in secondary school from 1998 and my passion for this form of expression lead me to my choice of college study. During this time, I began to observe, understand and develop an awareness for social and cultural happenings around me. My traditional upbringing was at odds with what I saw and experienced with contemporary social life and pop culture. The late 20th century and early 21st century was a time of extreme change in the fabric of daily life in the countryside. In my mind, I had more questions than answers about changing attitudes and confusing juxtapositions of traditional culture and modern society.
Most of my paintings are about culture and depict the conflict and confusion between traditional and modern practices in contemporary Vietnam. Drawing transparent figures over traditional scenes, is an attempt to show an emptiness or void in a penetrating way. By bringing both the old and the new together, I hope to raise questions about the degeneration of morality in contemporary society. To balance the yin and yang in pictures, some details in my painting, often faces and hands, are opaque. Some characters in my paintings are depicted in black and white, symbolizing previous generations – they are simple, rustic, discreet and honest; symbolizing a dedication to a spiritual life. Modern transparent colorful figures symbolize modern life and future generations. Their actions, postures and thoughts seem to be in contrast to previous generations.
Choosing to be an artist has its difficulties. For me, it is a serious profession. I hope to be able to stay true to myself continuing to be creative and sharing my messages and questions with my viewers. Two factors have been the primary driving forces in moving forward and putting my art in the public eye. First, I want to continue to closely observe and record subtle changes in how life is lived and changing, especially how it effects the culture of Vietnam. Second, I do not want to praise or criticize cultures of the past, present or future since they all have their pros and cons – I simply want to present.
I hope people will look at themselves through my paintings. I hope that viewers uncover the truth about their lives and choose to live them in a way that is meaningful to them (Never waste a lifetime . . . ) I do not expect or want viewers to interpret in the same way I do – instead, I want each viewer to find their own meaning, based on their personal and individual truths.” Nguyen Minh Nam - January 2018