Artist Dozfy aka Patrick Nguyen’s signature style is minimal and breathtaking: a black background with naturalistic line drawings. He has a beautiful black-and-white landscape at Salare Restaurant in Northeast Seattle, and several neighborhoods west, a vibrantly orange and white tiger looking straight on with yellow eyes, jaw open outside a Rudy’s Barber Shop.
Nguyen has been painting for 30 years and is trained in fine art, focusing on acrylics and screen printing, with a love for comic and anime art as well. He started working on his project, Menuart, when he lived in Atlanta and engaged often with the restaurant industry. After coming to Seattle, he continued to build relationships with restaurants and has contributed works to many mainstays.
Nguyen formerly gravitated toward color, but his artistic style shifted 10 years ago, after he was inspired by the photography work of Ansel Adams. Nguyen was taken by the black and white tones of Adams’ work and wanted to create pieces that borrowed from that style without creating a hyper-realistic image. “[It’s] the philosophy of doing more with less. … You can create things that draw the eye,” he said.
Oftentimes Nguyen already has an idea of what he wants to portray with one look at a canvas. The skill comes from the discipline of drawing for eight-10 hours a day. “I take my process as an athlete — practice, practice, practice,” he said. “When it’s time to execute, it’s nothing you haven’t done before.”
There are always images running through Nguyen’s mind, but he says his Heartwood mural is perhaps one of the most special. In this piece, a tree trunk rises from the anatomical heart where it is rooted; the tree and the heart are one, where branches and veins are almost synonymous. The design had been in his mind for a while and it was simply a matter of finding the right canvas. Now the mural adorns the boarded-up entrance of Heartwood Provisions on First Avenue.
For Nguyen, orchestrating an image is like being a conductor or a composer who can see the structure of a musical piece in their mind’s eye. “It's very therapeutic. As you work with painting, it’s problem solving at each step. But you are also taking a step back [to] look at the big picture.”
Kamna Shastri is a staff reporter covering narrative and investigative stories for Real Change. She has a background in community journalism. Contact her at email@example.com. Twitter: @KShastri2
Read more in the Apr. 29 - May 5, 2020 issue.