04th of September- 03th of October 2020
What is outside is no longer outside. Trees, forests, mountains, rivers, lakes. Michael Nguyen has transformed these elements in his artworks into feelings, fantasies and dreams. They become part of our inner nature, part of the human soul. Through the subjective lens, Michael Nguyen gives all a new perspectives, a new soul. "Michael Nguyen's photography is the art of showing more than you can see. Making visible - worshipping the invisible, he walks with the third eye of a wanderer through the visual adventure of life.
How did you become a professional photographer?
Before this journey, where were you working on?
Before I could consider myself lucky to work as an artist, medical nursing was my vocation. While working in the intensive care unit and the emergency room, I was confronted with great suffering and death. This certainly had an impact on my photographic work. Many of my photos, as one can see, are melancholic and sometimes a little bit dark.
I found my way to photography when I was a journalist for art and culture. One of my main subjects was "Greece", and there was a lot to do with photography. Then, in close cooperation with Dr. Matthias Harder (now Director of the Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin), we laid the foundation for understanding the photographs of Herbert List and Walter Hege. Afterward, I was responsible for the direction, editing, and publication of the following articles by Dr. Harder. Since then, photography has opened up a whole new world to me.
For some personal reasons, I withdrew from art for many years. But since 2018 I have dedicated myself completely to artistic creation again, starting with restoring the past. In 1996, due to water leakage in the basement of my house, many negatives from the years 1988 to 1996 were damaged. I spent months of 2018 on restoring them. The results were my first series for years: "Historical Umbria" (1988), "Historical Prague" (1992), "Historical Berlin - Love Parade and CSD" (1992), "Historical Paris" (1994) and "Indonesia" (2005). With those, my way back to Photography had begun.
Who are influencers in your life? What inspires you?
There is no particular person who has a major influence on my life or my photography. But I am inspired by a wide range of things. There are many interpersonal relationships of varying complexity that I consciously perceive in my environment, that I immerse myself in and that shape my way of perceiving and thus influence my choice of motif and also the final elaboration of the picture.
Having said that, as afore-mentioned, death and illness always have had a great influence on my life and my artistic work and have shaped me until today. I get inspired by little things that we often don't notice in everyday life. I like to observe people and photograph them in everyday situations. I value and appreciate this life so much.
When was the first time you encountered "black and white" photography? Why not in color?
I always loved the photographs by Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Dorothea Lange, André Kertész. In the year 1988 when I was often in Italy, I started making photographs. After some experiments, I decided to go with black and white photography. Life is full of colors. - Yet, many of my photos often are not in colors, just black and white, light and dark, and everything in between. I want to concentrate on the form, the lines, and the mood. Amazingly, you can convey everything with all its nuances, the streets, the cityscapes, or even people's emotions without colors. And the grayscales gives viewers the freedom to apply their own colors on my pictures. Colors from their memory. Colors from their imagination.
In terms of technique and technology, what is your personal take in the creation process? What made your photography art outstanding?
I need a lot of time to work on my pictures. The most important tools of my work are of course the eyes and ability to perceive things. I shoot sometimes with very simple devices, like a point and shoot camera or a smartphone. Some projects are created during my travels, spontaneously and without planning, - others require a lot of preparation. I visit a certain very often, studying the surroundings and the light until I decide at which hour I take photographs at that place. I decide in which format the pictures should be published later. Then various graphic software and apps are used to create the desired.
My real artistic work, especially in the color department, begins afterward. The pictures are digitally processed and go through different stages until I have reached the mood, the sound, the effect, the emotion, and the meaning I want to express. Then the photo becomes a "painting" in which I show the real world of myself with all its beauty and horror. This makes my photographic art poetic, expressive, and distinctive.
Covid19 has changed a lot of dimensions in the world, what is your view and perspectives about these changes to humanity's future? During this ‘lockdown' time, did it inspire you? What are you focusing on and why?
It is true, Covid-19 changed the world and humanity immensely. I see the future of mankind rather gloomy because we destroy the environment and focus primarily on economic profit, many people concentrate exclusively on themselves and it shows that a peaceful coexistence even times like Covid-19 is difficult to make.
Certainly, this lockdown time has created a unique and strange situation and also great opportunities for artists and creators to capture the essence of the world. I have been intensively observing the behavior of people in these days, the interaction between human beings and their activities in leisure time while driving down the "lockdown". There we can see some light in the dark.
If you can have the freedom to do anything you want, what kind of undertakings or challenges do you want to pursue? What would you like to do with your photography skills? How comes that you are interested in photography?
I had the great fortune to have the freedom to realize most of my wishes and plans. Nowadays, due to health restrictions and a small financial budget, I cannot travel far and long and implement big projects. My biggest wish is to make a reportage about the cities, life, human conditions in the metropolises like Saigon and Hanoi. Hopefully, it will be possible someday.
All artworks are produced in a noble limited edition of only five, four, three, two or one copies
BY THE LAKE, IN THE FOREST AND IN THE MEADOW
Where our road leads
The meadow shines in all its glory
Rails to the water
Do you hear the voices
FRAMES (2) - URBAN ELEMENTS
Urban elements #71
Urban elements #83
Urban elements #30
Urban elements #69
Urban elements #20
Urban elements #3
ON THE STREETS OF SOLITUDE
On the streets of solitude #15
On the streets of solitude #11
On the streets of solitude #6
On the streets of solitude #10
On the streets of solitude #2
On the streets of solitude #3
THE GHOSTS OF Autumn
The lost heart
The day before
Have a great day