Art is a family affair for James Nguyen

WITH ONE OF HIS WORKS: “It’s better to talk about things you know and my family inspire me in the majority of my works.” Picture: Simon Bennett
WITH ONE OF HIS WORKS: “It’s better to talk about things you know and my family inspire me in the majority of my works.” Picture: Simon Bennett

Art is many things to many people. For Villawood artist James Nguyen, art is family.

“I usually use my family and friends as subject matter as ways to describe the wider world,” he said. “It’s better to talk about things you know and my family inspire me in the majority of my works.”

That is certainly true for his two works that were shortlisted in the Paramor Prize: Art + Innovation exhibition.

Rest Ice Compression and BuffaloDeer are video artworks that explore the ideas of values, race and the migrant experience.

Rest Ice Compression looks at the relationship between James’ mum and aunty and with their limited English skills how they would look after themselves in the event of an injury.

“It started out as a first aid instruction video and grew from there into their relationship and how they rely on each other to get by,” he said. “There is also a second component about how they would deal with racial outbursts they might encounter as older migrant woman without good English.”

His second work BuffaloDeer compliments the first by exploring the relationship between himself and his dad.

“Basically the work is a video of us talking while we make paper sculptures of buffalo and deer,” Mr Nguyen said. “It’s a discussion about race and how migrants can view other races.”

The 35-year-old pharmacist-turned-artist said it was an “honour” to have two works as finalists for the Paramor Prize.

The Prize was named in honour of the late Wendy Paramor, the only female artist to flourish in the male-dominated art scene of Sydney’s Central Street Gallery in the late 1960s.

“It’s pretty cool to have my work recognised. You know, I never thought about art as a profession until recently,” he said.

I used to be a pharmacist and I was in a bit of a rut and some friends brought me evening painting classes which I enjoyed and I've never looked back.

James Nguyen

“I used to be a pharmacist and I was in a bit of a rut and some friends brought me evening painting classes which I enjoyed and I’ve never looked back.”

Mr Nguyen will have his works exhibited at the Casula Powerhouse until April 23.

Details: casulapowerhouse.com.

Finals: Villawood's James Nguyen had two works short-listed in the Paramor Prize: Art + Innovation display. This is one of them. Picture: Simon Bennett

Finals: Villawood's James Nguyen had two works short-listed in the Paramor Prize: Art + Innovation display. This is one of them. Picture: Simon Bennett