In 2008 Brenda May Gallery had its first Introducing… show, a series of exhibitions aimed at showcasing the work of artists who are new to the Gallery. One of these young talents was Mylyn Nguyen, who presented a delightful collection of works narrating fantastical stories involving paintbrushes in congregations or worked into miniature worlds. This lead to her 2009 exhibition with the Gallery in which she presented: The amazing magicool journey of bear and me and the friends we met along the way. This exhibition displayed an imaginative exploration into an experience that could have been as a child and was now beginning to flourish in adulthood. Nguyen created a whimsical narrative through sculpture for the childhood imaginary friends she never had, actualizing these creatures into tangible objects that now occupy her adult life. In the words of the artist: “ I now ride the train to work with a glass friend in my pocket, a bear in my bag and a conversation with the little dust bunny in the crack of the window seal, populated by three little villages and a bug…”
Left: Mylyn Nugyen, ‘I can make you into ice cream’ 2009, clay, paint, felt, ink on paper, 12 x 8 x 8cm
Right: Mylyn Nugyen, ‘White dining chair’ 2009, found chair, wood, twigs, foam, dirt, paint, 89 x 40 x 37cm
Her work ‘I can make you into ice-cream‘ was part of a group of works in this show, all with blissful titles reminiscent of descriptive language used in children’s books. This playful work presents a situation in which the imagination of the tiny hand-painted protagonist and the reality of the scene create a nose-crinkling humour. This exhibition also saw her form miniscule changes to furniture, making a remarkable difference. Her work ‘White dining chair‘, as an example, would appear to be just that at a simple glance, but once engaged with the tiny carved out landscape on the seat of the chair draws the viewer in to the little world.
2010 saw the creation of Nguyen’s ever popular and still developing ‘Bottle A Tree + Girl‘ series. In small bottles the artist conserves a forest tree-by-tree, each with a little autobiographical paper girl making a tree her own. A spindling daddy-long-legs, a tail-less dog, a flock of microscopic bluebirds and a balancing bundle of furniture, among other animals and objects, have featured in this series in miniature paper form. As it is a continuing project, each time a new collection is made, the level of intricacy, imagination and creative genius continues to progress and amaze.
Left: ‘Bird + Girl #2′ 2011, acrylic + gouache on clay, wire, feathers, twig, glass dome, 24 x 17 x 17cm
Centre: ‘Bottle A Tree + Girl’ 2010, glass bottle, dirt, sponge, twig, w/c + ink on paper, 8.5 x 4 x 3cm (variable)
Right: ‘Bottle A Tree + Girl’ 2011, glass bottle, dirt, sponge, twig, w/c + ink on paper, dimensions variable
Mylyn Nguyen has since been taken on by the Gallery as a represented artist last year and has further delighted us with her inventive an innovative creations. This year alone we have seen anthropomorphic birds, autobiographic cats and more of her extraordinary miniature worlds in ordinary household chairs. This year in November she will be having a solo show at the Gallery entitled An owl flew into my office and told me to look for bear which is certainly bound to captivate and intrigue viewers. In her exhibition statement Nguyen explains, “This is about the tiny little bit of moss that sits in the crack of the concrete footpath outside the office that reminds me that one day, I should stop working and go find bear.”