Beyogmos – by Mai Nguyen-Long
Wollongong City Art Gallery is currently showing Beyogmos – a major solo exhibition by artist Mai Nguyen-Long. Two years ago Mai moved from her cramped inner-Sydney home studio to Bulli on the Illawarra coast. The move enabled her to purpose build a large, new studio offering space to archive her work and develop new ideas. Leah Haynes from Eastside’s Monday Arts recently caught up with Mai and exhibition curator Gina Fairley to talk about Mai’s move out of Sydney, its impact on her practice and the development of this major exhibition at Wollongong City Art Gallery.
Beyogmos covers a 15 year period of the artist’s work, offering drawings, paintings, animation, mixed media and installation. Reflecting on her practice, Mai says: “I’m trying to create a legitimate space, a tangible space in the gaps where things cannot be grasped or defined, a space between definites.”
Program Director at the gallery, John Monteleone, observes that “Mai Nguyen-Long’s art practice is underpinned by an intense curiosity, careful observation and deep introspection. Mai explores notions of place, memory and both personal and social-cultural identity in her practice, and although subtle elements of autobiography pervade her work the ideas and constructs of identity that emerge incorporate an awareness of a more universal experience.
“Mai’s vibrant, often intensely decorated, and coloured works are at once deeply considered and yet extremely intuitive. Her densely layered work guarantees the viewer that they will experience far more than meets the eye as the layers are stripped away to expose the multiple ideas bubbling beneath the surface.”
Beyogmos has been curated by Gina Fairley who brought the project to the gallery. She describes the exhibition as “a pseudo laboratory for cultural dissection and classification.” She goes on to say that “acts of dissection and violence have remained central to Mai’s practice from her early abstract paintings of anonymous forms – several of which extend the breadth of this exhibition.”
It’s intriguing work, and certainly challenges the viewer to consider their own model of classification for the world around them, all those elements and moments we struggle to place.
Beyogmos is on exhibition at the Wollongong City Art Gallery until 25 May.