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Hieu Nguyen: Ethereal Beauty and Deep Intimacy of Watercolor Paintings

Synergy of Styles

Hieu Nguyen (known as kelogsloops) fuses semi-realistic portraiture with deep-hued watercolor and gold leaf, creating elegantly semi-abstract and beautiful scenes, with running themes of femininity, connection, and deep emotion. Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, art has always been a huge part of the artist’s life. “I was always that artsy kid in school, the ‘one that could draw.” After pursuing a career in physiotherapy, Hieu quickly realized that art was his true passion, and ever since, he has been wholly committed to creating his strikingly delicate pieces.

"In Too Deep" by Hieu Nguyen, watercolor, ink, pencil and 21K gold leaf on paper, 2018

Hieu’s kinship with art began when he was taught how to draw Sailor Moon (the famous anime character) when he was 5. From then on, he developed a love for manga and anime, which can be clearly seen laced within his style, combined with more traditional skills and liquid softness. After a varied interest in fantasy art, digital art, and manga styles, Hieu studied fantasy, abstract and surreal styles. “I never had any proper formal art education, so I spent my years teaching myself how to draw people.”

"This Finity" by Hieu Nguyen, watercolor, ink, colored pencil, graphite and 21K gold leaf on paper, 2018

“It’s taken years, but I’ve learned to somehow find a middle ground to balance out those very different art styles.”

"With the Tide" by Hieu Nguyen, watercolor, ink, pencil and gold leaf on paper, 2018

Finding great inspiration in music, Hieu attempts to convey the “mental image” that is evoked from a “certain chord, lyric or note.” Listening to music is a key element in the process; “It’s hard to explain and put down into words, but it’s a sort of feeling, that has a composition, a line, a shape or a color that I’d see in my head, and I just run with it and draw it out. Before I know it, a story of some sort develops and expands.” It is clear that his work is deeply rooted in the emotion he draws from his surroundings, making his work very personal.

"Breathe" by Hieu Nguyen, digital illustration, 2017

“The least I’d like my work to do is to be able to connect to people, to have them feel or resonate. Because chances are, these feelings aren’t just mine alone, but things other people can also similarly relate to.”

"Let's Dance With The Dark" by Hieu Nguyen, watercolor, ink, pencil and 21K gold leaf on paper, 2018

Hieu comments that being a young artist in the modern world is challenging, “the art industry is constantly changing, yet has its traditional roots buried deeply. As a result, it’s difficult to know how to navigate as a young artist through the two, often polarising climates.” Regardless of the strange world that young artist live in today, Hieu Nguyen manages to wade through the uncertainty to create a truly soul-touching style, that captures the gentle elegance of peaceful femininity in his slender women and the power of deep love between people in his gorgeously intimate couplings. His uniquely thoughtful palette of rich and haunting color takes the viewer to a profoundly spiritual and ethereal headspace where one would very much like to be.

All images copyright of Hieu Nguyen

You can view more work by Hieu on his Instagram and website.

Article written by Kate Smith

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