The invitation to come to NSCAD University as the Bill and Isabel Pope Artist in Residence came at the right time for Nam Nguyen.
The Berlin-based artist was in the midst of a dramatic change in his artistic practice: reducing the scale of his work; mixing his own pigments; and letting go of representational image-making entirely.
Plus, it was a chance to return to NSCAD where he did his MFA
, graduating in 2008.
“It is so exciting to be back,” says Nam, in his studio in the Fountain Campus. “As an artist, you get so deep into things that the opportunity to simplify and deepen your craft is so appreciated.”
New paintings in various states of completion hang from the stark white walls of his studio. The colour-field canvases are a modest 64 cm wide by 72 cm deep, a nod to the size of typical portrait paintings. “I wanted a scale that was big enough to allow colour to function but too small to allow gesture to take over.”
And then there was the actual paint. “I was struggling to make paint ‘buzz’ in a certain way, like the way colour buzzes in historical paintings because the artist mixed their own paint. Now I get the raw pigment and mix it myself. There’s a world of difference.”