Cristina NualART

Tag: Inspiration

3D sketchbook: an archive of the artist’s inspiration

plasticbags1Zerostation is a Saigon-based arts organisation that aims to connect Vietnamese and international art practitioners. It regularly holds exhibitions of contemporary art, which is not yet a popular form of art in Vietnam. The current show by Truong Thien is called ‘Plastic Bags’.

For those of us for who the words ‘plastic bag’ mean disposable carrier bag, the title suggested environmental commentary. Not the case. Too bad – in a city that generates about 4000 tons of waste daily. The exhibits are neat rows of newly purchased plastic pouches, some with the price sticker on, containing mementoes, small objects, found or saved by-products of daily life consumption. The artist has been collecting things since 2009, adding small hand-written notes and organising them in clear zip-lock bags.

plasticbags3The curator and founder of Zerostation, Nguyen Nhu Huy, relishes in the possible interchange of meanings (of the objects and/or of the artist’s notes), and is interested in the confusion that conflicting meanings can lead to, a dislocation that according to him is still a novelty in Vietnamese contemporary art (and one must bear in mind that Surrealism never really set foot in Vietnam).

While one may cogitate on the individual and/or interrelated meanings of the various words and objects attached to the exhibition walls, one might look at the show differently and take in the bigger picture. The ‘Plastic Bags’ are an example of a different purpose of art practice: archiving. This collection is not a contrived attempt to play with binaries. The artist is doing some very basic hoarding, a common practice for many artists. You might call hoarding the practice keeping a database of inspiration. It’s not a new thing, and neither is the concept of creating art archives. Both activities go well together.

 Truong Thien’s artwork is a union of text and object, not to engage the viewer into multilayered readings, but because this compendium is, in fact, a 3D sketchbook. Artists’ sketchbooks are collections of ideas that occur at random moments in life. Most people will be familiar with images of Leonardo’s sketchbooks, brimming with drawings, annotations and personal comments. the artist here is doing the same, collecting ideas to give them more thought and form at a later stage. The original intention was not to exhibit each plastic bag as a finished artwork, but the growth of the archive led to it’s becoming a coherent artwork. The final outcome now open to the public is a by-product of the process of thinking about art and acquiring sources of inspiration. The selection and presentation of the material is just an original way of illustrating that process.

At this point, the ‘sketches’ take on the role of finished pieces. The uniform aesthetic of the glossy wrap allows us to see each anecdotal souvenir as a stand-alone entity. There is no no desire to fragment, and no need for meta narratives. This ensemble is a sculptural umbrella of real-life snapshots. Amusing, sloppy and arbitrary snapshots of the artist’s observations of the world around him.


Need more info on art as archive? Art-Omma has selected some in depth analyses.

Art as teleportation via the internet

I’ve recently moved from London to Saigon, and last night I phoned my grandmother to let her know all is well here. When I told her I was phoning from my computer via the internet, my nan, who has never used a computer, was  amazed that technology could do such things. Imagine if we’d used video-link! Her sense of wonder is not out of place. I can safely say that computer literate people also find intercontinental links heart-warmingly extraordinary!

Artist Mariele Neudecker has expressed a fascination for the ability to create art in multiple locations simultaneously, via the internet.

‘Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived’ (2000) is her sculpture of a stretched skull based on the skull in Holbein’s 1533 painting ‘The Ambassadors.’

Holbein’s large canvas is wonderous, so perfect and full of detail, but with that mysterious shape hovering in front of us. Oh, I wish I’d gone to see it one more time before I left London. At least I did visit my revered Carlo Crivelli’s next door… There are so many great things to see in life!

Mariele Neudecker, in awe as the rest of us with Holbein’s floating metaphor, created a 3D digital image of the skull, and the file was used to machine-carve it out of resin. ‘The stereo lithography machine cut that 3 dimensional, virtual object out into resin,’ she says of the new technology, which she sees as ‘a kind of a forerunner of teleportation, I suppose, because in theory, you could have a computer sitting in Cardiff and send all the information and data down to Australia, and have the machine cut out exactly the same object. You can put any object, any three dimensional object, from the computer into reality’

Mariele Neudecker, 2002

Art colonises me

Artur Zmijewski on how he perceives his role as stage-manager of his own filmed participatory workshop:

‘the situation is that the art catches up with me, it tells a story, colonises me, says “this is art”. I am an artist because I operate in the field of art. That’s where I’m most active and most fulfilled; that’s where I’ve been given a place to speak from and that’s from where I’m heard. So if I was to say why this is art, I’d say it’s precisely because it catches up with me, claiming what I do.’

Double Agent, curated by Claire Bishop and Mark Sladen, 2008, ICA, London, catalogue p. 101

Drawing Theatre

My art practice is rusty, for a few more months. It’s on hold while I put energies into my art research.

Ideas keep cooking, of course, and the odd spot of sketching happens naturally, but yesterday I took the day off to try something new. I’d booked myself onto a Drawing Theatre day to indulge in an unusual life drawing session, where the models are performers.

The setting, in the Grand Hall of the Battersea Arts Centre, was as grand as its name. A ornamental space, huge, was filled with less traditional props, like a makeshift staircase and naked people.

By the end of the day, pink and yellow balloons, inflated by the models, were all above us and around our feet, and the metaphors extracted from the intriguing performance added to the inspiration of the music organ, decorated ceiling, arched windows and human beings. To respond to the theatrical scene, participants used pencil, watercolour, collage, charcoal, felt-tips, even an iPad! Creativity flowed abundantly and a few of my drawings are good enough to share.

Here is a snippet from my take on the event:




Ron Arad’s ‘Bodyguard’ chaise-longue, 2008, & my Croatian stone found on a beach in Hvar, 2009.

Designer Ron Arad’s exhibition at the Barbican has just finished, but inspiration oozes out of all sorts of nooks, crannies and stoneholes…


4_Belleville_2010It is very rare that I watch a film twice, or read a book again. There are so many I haven’t yet seen or read that I’m more keen in exploring in the unknown ones than in revisiting a favourite one. However, The Triplets of Belleville is such an incredible animation, that I can’t help but recommend it to people who don’t know it. For that reason, I have seen it again twice in the last fortnight, to wow my guests. The plan worked, and who wouldn’t be amazed at this incredible story, full of surreal characters and even more imaginative situations. This is not a Disneyfied saga of good versus evil and predictable outcomes. The triplets and the main characters unravel a world where strong and mild personalities coexist and collaborate, and where differences are not destined to marginalise. Most importantly, the drawings are really superb, both in quality (the textures, the lighting, the un-jerky movement, the impeccable finish…) and in design. The inventiveness is delirious. C’est merveilleux!
Older women take centre stage with their strength, resourfulness and wit!

Unless otherwise specified, text and images © 2017 Cristina Nualart

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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