Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Interviewing Mr Minh/ Ty
How well-known are you in Vietnam?
My paintings are not as popular in Viet Nam but western people seem to enjoy collecting them. This is probably because I paint very abstractly and Vietnamese generally prefer realism in their art. In Vietnam, art is not emphasized in the education system unfortunately, and visiting art galleries here is mostly a pastime for foreigners.
What media do you work in?
Mostly oil on canvas.
When did you start to take a different direction with your work?
I started painting more abstractly in 2000 to set myself apart from other artists. I wanted to break away from the norm, to make my work stand out. I wasn’t sure how well it would be received as I know my abstract work can be confronting. When I first started painting this way, I knew it would take a while for people to take it seriously. Some people say it is depressing.
Some of the images are quite dark and disturbing. Do you set out to shock people?
No, not at all. I think it is more about awakening. The language of art makes people feel and perhaps face things from their pasts, to maybe realize what is missing. It is true that some people may be shocked and may look for a message or some meaning. I don’t paint with a message or cause in mind – that is more the realm of the people viewing the paintings. Their reactions are individual reactions, not collective ones.
You talked about art as a subject in Vietnam’s education system. What are your views on how art is taught here?
I think the teachers are very much holding onto old methodology and ideas. In art classes here, the teachers force students to follow old rules, to paint old concepts of beauty, like rural scenes and street scenes. But art and the world are things that are constantly evolving and changing. We all view the world in a different way, experience beauty in different things. Creativity needs to be encouraged and rewarded, regardless of traditional concepts of beauty.
What advice would you give to young students currently studying art?
My advice would be to embrace and learn all of the technical knowledge and skills that they can from school art classes but be bold enough to break the rules to follow their individual creative paths. It may take longer to succeed but persistence is necessary, particularly in the arts.
You mentioned that your work receives attention from foreign art lovers. Can you talk about that?
Well, I’ve been lucky enough to exhibit outside Vietnam on several occasions. I’ve had individual shows in California and Colorado. In France, too, in a town called Valenciennes in the north. At the moment I have several paintings in a show at the Fresno Discovery Museum in California.
Minh's website: www.typainter.com