By Katy Cowan
When Texas-based Vietnamese artist Dan Lam graduated from school, her paintings were challenged as being “too pretty”. Instead of rejecting her abilities, she decided to push boundaries to see how far she could “get away with making beautiful things and what happened to beauty when there was too much of it”.
Her interest in these concepts developed with her work and she started exploring different avenues and visuals to express those ideas – mainly creating drippy sculptures that are so weird and ugly, they’re in fact beautiful. Crafted using polyurethane foam, acrylic paint and epoxy resin, the sculptures are deliberately inviting as well as disturbing. Dan explained: “I look to the body (flesh, skin, foods) and nature (aposematism) for cues. I’m interested in creating these bright, attractive things that begged to be held, but either can’t be touched because of the setting, or you can actually touch them, but they’re hard and spiky making them not so inviting. They remind me of Ken Price in that quintessentially Californian kind of language, but brought right up to date.”
Speaking of her process, Dan said: “I start with the polyurethane foam on top of some kind of armature. I have a loose idea in my mind of the form I want. The nature of the foam is somewhat unpredictable, so a lot of my process is guiding materials and then releasing control to the material and gravity. If the shape calls for it I will manipulate or add textures.
“I will also work in a subtractive way with the shape if I think it needs it needs cleaning up here and there. At this point, I add acrylic paint and occasionally resin, depending on what kind of finish I want. There are usually quite a few layers. Lately I’ve been mixing it up with each piece, going between matte and gloss.”
All words & images courtesy of the artist
Read more here:: Oozing, droopy sculptures that are strangely beautiful by Dan Lam