Artist: Tony Nguyen
Media: Mixed-Media, Jewlery, Sculpture
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Maxine Merlino Gallery
About the Artist:
Tony Nguyen is currently finishing up his last semester at CSULB, after being there for five and a half years. Tony began his path into art by drawing and painting. However, a teacher of his told him that he needed to put a lot more of work into his drawings and paintings, but Tony didn’t really want to. This is when Tony got into illustration. Tony will now be majoring with a BFA through the Metals and Sculpture program. Tony also enjoys playing with Legos, being with his family, reading and writing.
The Neoteny exhibition, had a total of 15 pieces. 15 pieces which are completely unique and refreshing. It’s honestly unlike anything I’ve yet to see in an exhibition, until Tony presented his work. In addition, Tony’s exhibition pieces is two and a half years of work.
Tony’s favorite, yet most challenging piece was My Family Bridge. He stated that this was his favorite piece because it was based on his mother’s obstacle she had to overcome in order to leave Vietnam durin the Vietnam War. His mother, along with her family had to make the decision to cross a bridge or get stuck behind. The moment she and her family finished crossing the bridge a bomb went off and broke the bridge. The four small bridges each represent Tony and his three brothers and behind each bridge has their names. The darkest bridge represents Tony’s. As for the big bridge, it represent his parents and behind it, it reads CHERRISH FAMILY. Tony also stated that the footprints are actual toe footprints of his family members.
Tony’s work is very different, yet similar in many ways. Similar because they all fall under the same theme, which was neoteny. Neoteny is when, “an organism or individual maintains juvenile behaviors into adulthood.” Tony’s work always seems to have a child’s like component to it, yet in an extremely mature level. His work makes you remember those bittersweet childhood memeories. Take for instance, his piece called The Many Tonys. The figurines all represent Tony, however, they are all different types of him. There is a fancy Tony, an astronaut Tony, a music Tony, a normal Tony and many more. However, behind all the Tony’s stood a see through, mucky Tony. The Tony’s in the front represent what he shows everyone. However, the one in the back, represents what he hides from the world. Tony was able to create such a powerful piece by creating spontaneous figurines.
Neoteny has given me one of the best exhibition experience so far. Not only was Tony very welcoming and very open about the background of his work, but his work reminded me a whole lot of when I was a kid. From the Vending Machine Peddling Happiness to The Many Tonys. His work was breathtaking and filled with detail. However, my favorite piece was A Crown Fit for a Monkey because of how much detail it has. From the way the pieces of metal are cut, to the feathers that are hanging out of the crown. I loved every single detail of this piece.