Dan Lam is in focus for our Art Watch for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.
Amorphous, vibrant, tactile, sculptures that have an almost seductive quality about them seem to slip off furniture. They were once described as ‘surreal pets’. Looking closely has led to the extraordinary life and work of young artist Dan Lam.
Lam was born in 1988, in Morong, Bataan, Philippines in a refugee camps. Her young life started with struggle. Her parents tried to live a better life and move away from the political turmoil and move to America. They hoped for better opportunities to work, earn money and have a better life. Lam moved to Houston, Texas. Living as immigrants was hard. But somewhere – the artist was born inside her and as far as she could remember she was always drawn to creating. She crafted her works from whatever material was available. Attending art classes finally gave her what she wanted. An understanding of what she wanted to do. It opened the doors to what she could become. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Drawing and Painting from the University of North Texas and Arizona State University.
Armed with her education, she set out to work in her own studio. There is a lacuna between the lives of the privileged and entitled and those who have had to scrounge. The main difference is that the latter never wastes a single experience. And nor did Dan Lam. She grabbed attention when she joined the world of social media – taking the world of social media artists by storm. Finally, in the right place at the right time – she had arrived.
The vibrant colours, and ‘unnatural’ shapes lend an edgy quality to her works. She enjoys the process of inquiry, questioning and discovery around her works. “I love hearing the different comparisons people see in the work, which to me implies that I’m pushing the boundaries of the materials. Personally, I relate a lot of the textures, shapes, colours to the body and things that affect the body – fatty forms, candy colours, and decorative textures.” She says. It is important for her process that the viewer is forced to relook and re examine – even if they reject the creations in the first go, because she subtly questions the accepted constructs of beauty. The exploration that the audience will undertake, is an exciting moment for her.
Her preoccupation with the bulbous shape has been investigated. And for the artist, she says that it has much to do with the nature of the medium that she works with. Perhaps for some they are alien predators and for others some toxic man-made substance. Her colour palette for these works has always seemed to me like those colours we find when oil mixes with water. She works with candy colours, but they are diametrically opposed to the creation. In the sense that the sweet joy and innocence of the colour is opposite to the punishing perfections that society demands
Why Dan Lam?
The artist says that -“Continuing with themes of beauty, the work reflects ideas of covering up and how one presents themselves to the world. Sometimes the pieces reveal themselves, hints of how they’re made, the messiness underneath, and areas that are not so perfect.” That is enjoying a certain organicity in her creations.
Lam she takes her inspiration from nature, food, and the human body. Her craft is very intuitive. As far as the process is concerned – she likes to fill up the space as much as possible, because it demonstrates an idea of excess.
She has gone from strength to strength in terms of representation, with her work being displayed in Venice as part of the Biennial Project’s online juried competition Art Venice Bienniale 3. Her latest creations can be viewed currently at Kamiposi Gallery in Midland, Texas and at Holly Johnson Gallery in Dallas, Texas. Dan has had the honour of being published twice in New American Paintings.
For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.