Alectruha, pseudonym of Minh Tru, is a freelance visual artist based in Saigon. As the art name he adopted spontaneously, Alec's artworks give us a sense of free spirit and full of evocation.
Considering his professional skills and knowledge of art to be inadequate, Alec has never attached a particular artistic style to himself. He just keeps sketching and doodling, and at the same time, experiencing various techniques used by other antecedent artists. Above all, his works aim to convey a positive vibe to the audience.
Alec doesn't limit his art to a piece of paper but lets his creativity flow on customized bags, sneakers, glass, and walls covered with graffiti in Saigon. His fluid lines of doodling and colorful markings could bring the artwork alive.
1. Have you ever had goosebumps moments when looking at an artwork?
Positively speaking, anything that I admire or gives me goosebumps is what I haven’t or couldn’t achieve.
It can be a straight line or a perfect curve at the first attempt of the artist. I’m also impressed with the paintings that could arouse strong emotions in audiences or unravel the naked truth about mental illness.
On the dark side, an artwork of violence could also easily give me goosebumps.
2. What is in front of you at this moment?
Physically, a laptop. But in my mind, I am covered in a thick blanket of fog, with a beam from the lighthouse ahead. I’m walking slowly and cautiouslly through the dense mist towards the light.
3. What is your favorite street in your city?
I really adore Huyen Chan Cong Chua (Huyen Chan Princess) street as a person who is very special to me once named it as ‘the road of greenery.’
I used to love having an early morning walk along this street at 7, sitting on the sidewalk while having a hot Vietnamese crab soup, and enjoying the fresh atmosphere under the leafy canopy formed by the trees lining both sides of the road. There is not much traffic in this area so it’s quite peaceful.
Whenever riding across this road, I always slow down to reminisce about the beautiful memories of the past.
4. Is there an art theme you’re not confident in giving it a try?
I have a hard time when it comes to reflecting my inner self – drawing my fear, mistakes, and other frustrating feelings. For me, self-reflection is extremely important, as the inner self is a very personal space that not anyone could readily confront or share.
However, I made a series of paintings related to mental health in 2019, when I had to face my emotions a lot for creative materials. That time was a real milestone in my mental life.
5. Which artwork would you send to a person with a mental illness?
I might be appreciated as the receiver, but if I was the sender, it could be much more complicated since I have struggled with my own mental health. You wouldn't know whether these artworks are proper gifts or if they evoke any negative feelings in their audiences.
I would not choose an artwork of my own will and send it as a gift to a person suffering from mental illness. You could choose by yourself any piece of art that you can relate to emotionally and that expresses exactly what you feel.
6. During your creative process, which one – you or your pen – takes control?
As such a carefree person, I just let my pen lead to where it’s going to be when painting. But after that, the final product still needs some refining under my control. It’s based on what I feel at the moment that the art piece would turn out gentle with many tender curves or tough with more sharp lines.
7. Digital or traditional painting: which one do you prefer?
I’m quite sure that the majority of artists would prefer painting with their own hands, and so do I. Although digital art is convenient, it can’t bring us such carefree joy as hands do – the same thrills and excitement that children have when playing with colors with their fully awakened sense of touch.
8. Have you applied any of your knowledge of design to painting?
I must admit that I did join an intense drawing class for entrance exam preparation and some digital design courses, but both ways didn’t work for me. However, the knowledge about the design philosophy and art principles such as color theory and rules of perspective was and is helping me a lot during my creative process. I apply what I have learned to produce a result that I feel comfortable and satisfied with.
9. What do you usually dream about when sleeping?
I can’t remember my dreams once I wake up, although as a child I did remember having nightmares like being eaten, chased, or trapped until I went to secondary school. As soon as I’m awake, I have no idea whether I have dreams or sleep talking.
10. Aside from painting, do you have other ways to practice mindfulness?
Believing in the law of karma and Buddhism philosophy, I try to develop myself spiritually and mentally.
I practice mindfulness as guided in the book “Search Inside Yourself” by Chade Meng Tan as well as try Ho’oponopono – a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.
Mindfulness helps me take better control over the wheel of my emotional ship and navigate it to a more positive place, while Ho’oponopono teaches me to take full responsibility for what has happened in my life without complaints and resentment.
Translated by Bich Tram