“If I don’t show off my paintings, I’m still painting!” – Bui Ngan, the artist says

Bui Ngan can’t imagine how a day goes without a brush. Painting, for her, is the foundation that shapes who she is today, a place where she can confront her deepest emotions and express her private thoughts about women and femininity.

06.18.2022 by Bao Chau

Em Thư và bình hoa ngọc hân

“Em Thư và bình hoa ngọc hân” is a work by Bui Ngan that is part of the auction project Nở by L’OFFICIEL. The artist chose to depict femininity through a girl rather than an adult woman in it. “To me, ‘femininity’ does not discriminate against gender identity , and talking about ‘femininity’ in women is even more irrelevant because a woman is beautiful and radiant in a different way at every moment.”

Hi, Bui Ngan. What brought you to the “NỞ” exhibition?

The overarching theme of “Nở” is women, and it admires the role of women in modern society. Meanwhile, women and “femininity” have always been one of my favorite inspirations, both in life and in creativity. So, I’m thrilled to accept the invitation to take part. It’s great that women’s roles are becoming more prominent, and I hope that my work can help to contribute to that.

Could you please tell me more about the painting “Em Thư và bình hoa ngọc hân “? Is there something special about the vase of jade flowers or the girl’s breakfast routine?

Thu’s actual scene is depicted in the painting. I had the opportunity to meet her family while camping in B’Lao – Bao Loc. Thu’s yard has many trees, including angelonia. This early morning, everyone arranged flowers, prepared snacks, and shared breakfast before the sun rose in the middle of the B’Lao forest.

How did you get into art? What keeps you coming back to digital art?

Before digital art, I experimented with a variety of other materials and approaches. I think that  is a common journey of  many young artists. To supplement my work, I still try using other materials such as watercolor, acrylic, ink, and so on. However, for someone who enjoys movement, such as myself, digital is always beneficial.

The majority of the artwork in the exhibition “Bịt mắt bắt cừu” as well as the painting “Em Thư và bình hoa ngọc hân”is digital art printed on various materials. Have you ever attempted to draw on real paper? According to the artist’s perception, how do these two forms differ for you?

I’ve drawn on dó paper, canvas… Personally, in my perspective with digital art, machines are not always “satisfied” when compared to hand-drawing, holding a brush, dipping wet colors, and touching real paper, which is similar to using multiple senses at the same time.

That is not to say that digital painting cannot push the work to touch the viewer’s emotions, whether viewed on a digital screen or printed. Choosing print materials is another factor that digital artists consider when printing their work in order for the print to have a visual effect and best convey the spirit of the drawing.

What has been the most significant shift in your artistic perspective since the exhibition “Bịt mắt bắt cừu”? How is that shift reflected in the work that is taking part in “NỞ” this time?

“Bịt mắt bắt cừu” in my opinion, although not too ostentatious, it’s great on media , and the resonance is still there after 2 years, but then I noticed many shortcomings in myself, in my professional skills. The subject needs further practice.

I created “Em Thư và bình hoa ngọc hân” before I made “Bịt mắt bắt cừu.” However, I’ve come to see the work from a different perspective since then. The only difference in terms of graphics is that I don’t have the aim to want many people to know me immediately. I try to keep calm to get more knowledge and improve the quality of the project in which I engage. My participation in “Nở” is evidence of that change.

Have you found your sheep yet if you compare the image of “sheep” to your inner ego? How do you describe  that sheep?

Most likely a shy “baby sheep,” somewhat frail and wary of being hurt , surrounded and protected by thick fur. I discovered and continue to observe, pat this “sheep,” remember to observe myself, and wish to change for the better day by day.

I used to be the type that would rather be missed  than take action; now I know how to take the initiative at the correct time, because if I keep missing out, somewhere along the line, I will put a lot of nice things behind my back, and I will also feel more comfortable expressing myself.

Your paintings’ colors are various but also calm, not necessarily bright or cheerful. Is that correct? Is this the artist’s unique mind and personality?

I enjoy observing, hanging out, reading, and contemplating everything around me.

I frequently talk with mature people  (in thought and point of view ),  seniors and listen to plenty of stories about work, career, life, love, etc. I like how people, after overcoming so many life scenes, look at life gently and enjoy how to love and give while remaining authentic. From there, I discovered how life works in multiple dimensions and colors.

So, unintentionally, I brought that lesson into my work. Painting, to me, is more than just a pretty decoration; it should make people stop, look, and relax instead of just passing by. But, first and foremost, it  must be well-looked.

Painting is mostly concerned with women, children, and culture; what do you believe are the most emotional aspects of creating a work?

In creativity, my touch point is honesty. The work will be on your own as long as you are honest with yourself. Things like drawing techniques and planning time are secondary considerations.

However, once you’ve decided on a topic, it’s difficult to keep your true feelings hidden. The truth here is determined by each individual’s personality. For me, honesty is also created by seemingly unrelated issues, such as diet, but it helps to keep emotions healthy.

Among the three themes: women, children, and cultures, culture requires more factors than other emotions, because doing culture requires the artist to conduct extensive research.

How importantly does artistic creativity play role in your life? What would your life seem if you didn’t hold a brush or draw?

There will never be a time when I do not hold a brush, whether to show off my works. Drawing is not my only interest or objective, but it is the foundation for what I have today also, which I intend to keep and improve in the near future. I’m a rational-emotional mixed person, therefore even if something appears emotional at first glance, I still prepare several ideas and scenarios for it. So, if no one ever refers to me as an artist, it will also be an intentional choice, and I will be entirely content with that.

Aside from painting, I’m on my way to learning and experiencing new things. But I’m still painting even though I’m not showing off my work.

Can you reveal your future plans? What about your second exhibition, for example?

My most immediate plan is to learn. Of course, I’ll have to maintain this for the rest of my life, but it’s my top priority right now, even at work. At the moment, I work on collaborative projects rather than painting, and I hope to have a second exhibition or project at an ideal time.

Thank you! Bui Ngan, for sharing your stories. It is exciting to hear about your future artistic projects!

Translate by Hai Duy, Chii Nguyen – Credit: l’Officiel 

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