artist interview - nhung nguyen's paper collage

by sophie kalagas

Paris-based artist Nhung Nguyen makes the kind of technicolour paper collages that would be quite at home in a children’s book, and they’re embellished with such intricate details that we assume she has some kind of peewee pair of scissors to nick out tiny shapes. We got in touch with the talented lady to ask about her art.



What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Nhung Nguyen and I am 24 years old.

Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in France and I live in Paris.


How does where you grew up and where you live now affect your art?
My art is to do things with sensitivity and heart. I try to develop a fragile and graceful expression by cutting shapes in colourful sheets of paper. I like talking about transmission, and have made a collage series called je me souviens (I remember), from the title of a poem by the famous French novelist Georges Perec. My series refers to the transmission between a grandfather and his granddaughter and the discovery of different worlds. I think it comes from my background, I am a daughter of Vietnamese immigrants. Paris is also a very inspiring city for its history, its creativity and variety of artistic scenes for music, visuals arts, architecture and fashion. I like to walk in Paris to soak up the energy of the town and it gives me some ideas.

Please describe the space where you do most of your creation – whether it's your art studio or kitchen bench!
Often I work at home in my little studio, on a large table that allows me to cut parts when I do my carvings, with my cat watching me do it all.


What kind of mediums do you use? Why do you choose to use these mediums?
I love working with paper. With this material, I can work in two or three dimensions to make an illustration or design. I like when a work is meticulous and precious. Paper changes appearance depending on the density of the light. It's an elegant medium, and I can choose different types of paper depending on the thickness and colours.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using this medium?
Paper creates some unique artworks (but they take up a lot of space in my flat!). I depend a lot on the fabric of paper and I don't have the complete colour palette that digital art can offer.


Is there a running theme to the work you create, or do you just make whatever comes to mind?
I do not have a specific theme, I do what comes into my mind depending on my mood, depending on what I did or saw yesterday.

Were you interested in arts and craft as a child?
I have always loved everything artistic. I read and watched a lot of books, Hans Chrisitian Andersen and Perrault fairy tales. For example, when I was a child I had a fascination for the painter Claude Monet, for his use of colour. I still love his work. It's a world apart - there is really a sense of colour, shapes are random but we have the feeling that we are with him in his atelier in Giverny. 


What kinds of ideas and things are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I am working on the retrospective of the famous French filmmaker, Jacques Demy (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Donkey Skin, The Young Girls of Rochefort). There is an exhibition currently at La Cinémathèque française in Paris, where they had organised an evening show for young people in art school, and I was able to participate.

Which era of art do you appreciate the most?
I don't have favourite art movement. I'd rather cite the names of artists like Matisse for his work on colour, and also Nouvelle Vague cinema for its spontaneity.


What do you doodle when you are daydreaming?
I mainly like to watch people walking in the street, sitting in a café. I like to draw my inspiration from life.

What other artists do you love?
At the moment, the eccentricity of the rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs and nostalgia is a feeling I like. I find this reassuring feeling, indifference, in the sixties decade of music. I like Nancy Sinatra, Françoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg... this period makes me dream. Otherwise, I am curious about everything in every field. I like to discover new things.


What do you enjoy doing when not creating art?
I love sharing my table with friends. I love making cakes with my sister who is great at baking delicious pastries.

Where can we see more of your work?

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