Wednesday, January 13, 2016

MYLAN NGUYEN



ModernDallas.net repost of my article.

Last year I happened to find myself at the Public Trust down in Deep Ellum. Brian Gibbs talked to me about his plan to create a space for just one art piece for people to come and see. Now that he has moved to the Design District on Monitor Street, Gibbs has started implementing his plan. Each show is part of his Soliloquy series in which an artist presents a piece as the single focus of the show. So far, Arthur Peña has presented a painting and up now is Mylan Nguyen’s boat installation.

Arthur Peña’s painting was accompanied by live music at the opening. His painting was on the far wall, with all other walls bare. This was not a huge painting, but by being the only piece in the room, I believe it gained a great deal more presence. The Impressionists in their first show attempted to slow down their viewers by allowing each painting enough space for people to see each piece, which was counter to the salon style of the day. We have come so accustomed to this spacing in the gallery, we find ourselves once again rushing through art spaces, and give each piece less time than it probably deserves. Brian Gibbs wants art viewers to slow down even more by removing all distractions and recreating an almost reverent space for one object.

Much of Mylan Nguyen’s work that I have encountered has been little informal drawings with a bit of manga/Yoshitomo Nara influence. These are generally figurative works that are very cartoony, sometime edgy and other times sweat. Her approach presents drawings out of sketch books and loose sheets of paper as finished pieces is not completely foreign. After all, Raymond Petition has made his career presenting an informal product. Nguyen’s current installation incorporates her drawings, but only as part of the whole art piece. I understand at the opening, her boat was on a kind of pedestal which made the work a little less inviting, but that has been removed and now a textile that simulates water has replaced the pedestal. Nguyen also encouraged a friend and I to take a seat in the boat. I carefully entered the boat and I felt quite at home with her piece. I was able to look at the small objects in and around the boat a little closer. I felt swept away as I was sitting in the piece. You might think Nguyen turned to installation to solves Gibbs’ vision, but she has a track record for doing some elaborate installs. Her show at CentralTrak was sprawling and intense. She also explored her own brand of tent display that looked to be a little more playful than Tracey Emin’s.

As I was leaving the installation area, I noticed she had several small pieces framed in the entry room and even some clay pieces. These were charming and I enjoyed looking at each individual piece. Though, I did notice I spent more time with her boat, so I guess Brian Gibbs is on to something.

If you missed Arthur Peña show at Public Trust, it is currently showing with Francisco Moreno at the Dallas Latino Cultural Center until January 15th. Mylan Nguyen’s installation will stay afloat until December 12th.

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