Artist Jon Nguyen produces colorful, vibrant paintings that represent a very considered progression of translating aspects of human experience into visual stimulation. Over time he has evolved serial works that look at the interplay of social identity, media, culture and self-image. The visual excitement of his work offers the viewer an opportunity to enjoy the art on many levels.
The upcoming exhibit primarily features sculpture, and continues his series Grand Traditions, which looks at the aesthetic elements and iconographies of ritual and celebration. The artist is interested in intersections – the migration of people, the space between commerce and ideology, and the shrinking global community. He finds rituals create the first visual impression of a collective social experience, such as the way holiday themes prepare children to participate in a consumer driven society. He looks at how the psychological charge of expectation provides the power behind a massive marketing engine that promotes a sense of longing, want, desire and need. Not simply criticizing it, he acknowledges sometimes being affected by it himself, and even participates. His work becomes a commentary on the universal connection we create as citizens, consumers and believers.
The work is informed by an earlier series that explored external surfaces through the metaphor of skin. The layering, the crevices and shapes, the overall as a result of the underlying all became metaphor for the relationship of ideas and context. The dualities inherent in skin, such as beauty and repulsion, youth and aging, the marks of suffering and joy, all show amidst the suggestion of unceasing movement, exposing the relationship of viewer and artwork. He used glossy veneers and a ‘girlie’ color palette to assert a pro feminist stand regarding gender stereotypes, considering the manner in which change occurs – after all, skin undergoes change, decay and regeneration. By translating these thoughts into a visual format, he seeks to explore how variations in external conditions can affect inner lives.
Another series involved media noise as the external condition, continuing the theme of a visual discursive of outer and inner. He found the level of noise in culture appears to produce a sense of overload, conveying information and influencing choices. His works translated from graphic information visible and invisible elements. He used a full spectrum palette, saturated and metallic, to represent the deluge of processed information in media noise and the simultaneous seduction and precision found there. There is no fore or background, just one ‘all over surface’ ground, to represent the state of American contemporary culture.
Ultimately through abstraction, perception and meaning is left up to the viewers. Nguyen seeks to provide an open-ended narrative that is structurally diverse. Aiming for complex surfaces and maximum visual vibrations, alternately layering and exposing surfaces to create tonal diversity.
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