Painter Sơn pins hopes on unlimited creativity

September 18, 2022 - 10:21
Painter Nguyễn Sơn has introduced his second solo exhibition Pin, with works made from pins combined with western painting techniques.
'Net of Time', one of 28 works made from pins by painter Nguyễn Sơn. — Photo courtesy of Sơn

By Thanh Nga

After his first solo exhibition in 2020, where the main material was circuit board scraps, painter Nguyễn Sơn has introduced his second solo exhibition Pin, with works made from pins combined with western painting techniques.

With 28 works using pins and acrylic colours, they contain unique and new discoveries and creations, conveying to viewers different stories drawn by the author from real life, from the collision of creative thinking of art with various events and phenomena.

In his exhibition Matrix, using circuit board scraps, the roughness of the materials, and the neutral colours, gave the feeling of a crowded modern world that was grey and hard. For the Pin exhibition, the surface material employs pins and industrial wood panels that are coated with pigment.

"Works made from pins are my personal style in this period of composition. The important baggage of an artist is his direction in artistic creation. It is the compass and guideline for all artistic practices throughout the journey," Sơn told Việt Nam News.

"To me, there is no bad colour, no material that can't be turned into art, and every subject is very interesting. The importance is the way of working so that creativity is not limited."

According to Sơn, it took him four years just to complete the 28 works. On average, he worked 12-15 hours a day to complete this set of paintings and sat so much that he ended up with a herniated disc.

Painter Nguyễn Sơn (left) and his friends at his solo exhibition 'Pin' in Hà Nội. — Photo courtesy of Sơn

Sơn's unique 'pin' paintings use a complex process according to sketches drawn like a normal painting. He first lined the base with acrylic colours on wood, then covered it with pins. The colour palette of the pins formed a structure according to the colour in the sketch. While the drawing process is fast, putting pins on the surface is a very long process that challenges human patience.

"The pins are coated with a layer of coloured paint and fired at high temperature for a suitable time, so they are strong and adhere to the surface and withstand the impact of a staple gun and hammer to flatten them without peeling off," he said.

"For me, the material is an important factor, so I always explore, discover and understand nature to interact with it most effectively. Sometimes combining materials together creates interesting feelings. For example, I use acrylic to create colours when using pins as the main material.

"Depending on the material, I can either build an idea from the beginning or just do it and build it from the standard painting techniques. I create my own emotions and painting language through composition, colour and surface material."

'Daughter of the Water-Nymph', a pin painting by Nguyễn Sơn. — Photo courtesy of Sơn

Sơn's works show familiar themes and aspects of traditional art forms. There are works simply depicting lotuses, birds, chickens, and tigers, which almost seem to be against the rest of the expressionist works.

The author embodies two dimensions of art. One is distortion, climactic, and raging, and the other is calm, peaceful, and simple.

With the distorted shapes of Pin, a series of works such as Pain, Frog Dance, Edinburgh, Net of Time, and Long Biên Night show the same style to make the images wavy as if bent by an unseen force.

The human characters in the works are also curving and alive, but the interesting thing is that viewers still realise the character's features as real.

With the background material from the pins, the portraits show the amazing and flexible ability of the artist.

The pin painting Frog Dance'. — Photo courtesy of Sơn

The work Edinburgh depicts a city with roofs winding on a hillside. With the same colour tone covering the work, the city blends in with the rhythm of a city as if dancing.

The work evokes an interesting image created in fantasy. The same goes for Nature Dance, where Sơn draws animals like house lizards and frogs that are stretched and deformed, giving a pristine feeling to dances usually only found in humans.

Sơn's pin paintings all appear to be images viewed through the prism of the water surface, created by the clear coating.

Seeing the paintings from many angles feels like a strong wind has just passed, making every image fly. This way of creating shapes gives the impression that underneath the iron coating of the pins, there is a constant hum or vibration as if some underlying energy force powers the paintings.

Bùi Quang Thắng, artistic director at Vicas Art Studio, said: "Sơn is a painter that I respect because of his desire to explore artistic practice from architecture to painting and sculpture. His paintings have a wide range and richness of materials: from realistic depictions with oil paint through expressionism, and abstraction with acrylic, carton and circuit board scraps, and this time the pins."

"In my opinion, Sơn's pin paintings are art. After being coated with an epoxy layer, these works bring unexpected visual effects."

The pin painting 'Colour of Summer'. — Photo courtesy of Sơn

Born in 1969, Sơn has just drawn for about 10 years. He paints a lot but quietly. Two years ago, he brought his works to exhibitions at home and abroad and almost immediately attracted the attention of a host of experts. He currently has a solo exhibition at Art San Diego, the US, lasting until the end of this month.

During 10 years of drawing, Sơn had sold two houses to continue his passion, but he was never impatient to sell his paintings at any cost.

"I have a very crazy habit of always asking whether the buyer likes my painting or not. When I feel the answer is no, I won't sell," he said. "When I thought my work was being squeezed in price, I stopped trading."

To explore his inner feelings and self-expression, Sơn uses many methods. Besides being a good architect and painter, he is also a martial arts instructor, photographer and musician. He has left his own mark in each field, but it is the painting that gives him the highest creative freedom. VNS

Painter Nguyễn Sơn (behind) instructs an audience to make a pin painting. — Photo courtesy of Sơn