Wednesday, 29/11/2023 09:33

Pioneering artist honoured at Singapore's competition

Award-winning painter Trịnh Minh Tiến. Photo

Artist Trịnh Minh Tiến is the winner of UOB Painting of the Year Award. This is the first time the competition is held in Việt Nam. 

Inaugurated in 1982, the annual art competition is the longest-running in Singapore and one of the most recognised in Southeast Asia.

Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Bình chats with Tiến about the award and his career. 

Could you introduce your award-winning works?

I learned about the UOB competition thanks to my friends' introduction. At first, I did not intend to participate the competition because I am an artist and composing is work and a personal demand.

However, I decided to compete at the last minute with my children's encouragement. The award-winning work was made for my solo exhibition. It was a nice surprise for me to win the award. 

I wanted to represent an ethereal vision of St Joseph's Cathedral in Hà Nội with rain on the car’s windshield and hood. The cathedral was built on the foundation of the destroyed Báo Thiên Tower of Báo Thiên Pagoda, one the most sacred structure in the royal capital city during the Lý dynasty (1009-1225). The development of the country was greatly promoted with remarkable achievements in the fields of culture, religion, law, economy and politics under the Lý dynasty. 

The architect of the cathedral was inspired by the Neo-Gothic style and local culture typical characteristics. 

This artwork, entitled Thủy Phủ (Water Palace), contemplates and questions the clash of values in the course of history and society with a historical man-made structure in contrast to the impermanence of time and memory.

UOB Painting of the Year Award-winning work by Trịnh Minh Tiến. VNS Photo Nguyễn Bình

What inspired you to create Thủy Phủ?

Thủy Phủ is name of my first solo exhibition. It has the meaning of being covered by water. Thủy means water in English, representing flexibility and constant change.

Water has the meaning of washing, reconciling, soothing and uniting brokenness. It also washes away dirt and pollution, and starts creativity and healing.

Phủ means a residence symbolising the geographical element. Using an iconic material of the era (the car) is my way of reflecting the progress of history development.

I want to heal the destroyed glorious vestiges and what exists with water through my works. Life is changing very fast and we are easily hurt, so I think that we need to cherish more the value of the present. 

The use of airbrush on car bonnet is my way to heal and connect the past with the present and the future. 

You are the first artist to paint on a car bonnet as a medium in Việt Nam. Why did you choose to airbrush a car bonnet?

Fifteen years ago, I had contact with race-car drivers in Hà Nội. I saw they used airbrush to decorate their cars and the visual effect impressed me. 

Since then I have learnt airbrush technique, which is quite different from the traditional mediums that I was taught in fine arts college. I combine this medium with hyperrealism that I have experienced for years to create my works. 

Instead of using regular pens and brushes, airbrush helps me to express in the best way what I want. I can draw lines, shapes and space at the same time with airbrush. 

I let my emotions guide me. Painting is a natural and continuous act, much like how I paint with an airbrush starting from a single point and gradually spreading it. When I finish the work is completed.

You are among a few hyperrealist artists. Will you continue to pursue this style?

I have persistently pursued hyperrealism for years. I have displayed hyperrealist works at the APD Art Centre. I want to pursue this painting series in the future. I need a long time to work on the series. 

Maybe I will become a multi-medium artist. Currently, I'm still working towards conceptual sculpture, but who knows, maybe in the future I'll do 3D, visual and AI.

Artists, especially young artists, are no longer limited to easel painting. They have more choices, more mediums and tools to paint. 

What do you think about extreme in art creativity?

It is necessary for an artist to reach his nature. Art is never easy and the artist need to be strict with himself to go far on his path. The artist cannot lie because his works will reflect the true nature that he may not know or realise. 

The artist often works alone with his personal tendencies. But his works need to have a good impact on society and spread positive energies.

I think that drawing is an unconscious process and when the work is completed and published, it no longer belongs only to the artist.

All the compliments, criticisms, and reviews are good for the artist to look back, and to move forward. In cases, the artist - author at that time is just like an audience member - the first audience facing his work.

You received a cash prize from the UOB competition. You also have the chance to exchange with ASEAN and Japanese artists. What do you gain from this chance?

Vietnamese artists seem not to care about the outside and know how art develops in the region and in the world. Many artists are busy with commisions to make their paintings. They are almost satisfied with what they have and painting is their living.

Meanwhile, it is a very open world. Foreign artists tell their own stories having their personal voices.

In fact, there are Vietnamese artists doing art practises to connect with the world. These artists know that they have to try hard, break boundaries and learn much more. VNS

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