Vietnamese artist, Daniel Winn talks about his “Dark Matter” exhibition that is showcased at his Winn Slavin Fine Art gallery, on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Daniel Winn blends his artistic philosophy of “Existential Surrealism” with quantum mechanics and explores the artificial construct of time as a result of humanity’s inherent need to organize chaos. Winn’s presentation of “Dark Matter” consists of the twelve sculptures of his “Timeless Presence” series. The sculptures are numbered for the 12 hours of a clock as a way of organizing chaos, but the use of “Timeless” in the title implies the paradox of man’s perception of time with the reality of time”.
Daniel Winn is a blue chip artist, fine art curator and philanthropist. He is the founder of Winn Slavin Fine Art galleries located in Beverly Hills on the esteemed Rodeo Drive. Winn has also directly assisted in raising millions for non-profit aid in the United States and Asia.
I sat down and asked Daniel Winn a few questions about his art work, philosophy and recent endeavors.
Explain the title of your show “Dark Matter” and its significance to your artwork or the twelve sculptures presented in the show?
The purpose of this series is to understand and explain “matter”. Studying science and philosophy and merging it with art is part of this art series because quantum mechanics is a part of Dark Matter. It is about quantum mechanics trying to understand if matter exists and if matter does not exist then how can we exist? So my whole purpose of Dark Matter about is trying to understand quantum mechanics through the visual arts. The twelve sculptures presented at the exhibition are called the Twelve Hours because in quantum mechanics I incorporated “time” and “space” with Dark Matter. To summarize everything, I want to incorporate my philosophy through science and communicate that through a visual language of my paintings or sculptures – to get a better understanding of my universal truth.
You studied medicine before becoming an artist. What made you decide to pursue a life in the art world? How did you develop the skills of being a blue chip artist and a fine-art curator?
I studied medicine and reconstructive surgery in essence to satisfy my parents’ desire for me to be very successful, coming from an Asian background. For them feeling that being a doctor or lawyer would be best. For me, I studied medicine and loved it – I was one of the best in terms of my studies and anatomy and what I wanted to do was to heal people, however as time progressed, I found that my studies in medicine and being a doctor, I could help, just say in reconstructive medicine only a thousand or so people physically in my lifetime but as an artist I feel I can communicate and heal people intellectually, emotionally and spiritually not only in my lifetime but more importantly my art will sustain and even when I leave this world, it will still be there as my philosophy for the future generations to embrace and hopefully heal them in that respect and regard.
For the question of how I developed skills as a blue chip artist and art curator – I give credit to my background of studying medicine and reconstructive surgery and learning about anatomy and surgical procedures so I have that technical ability from my studies but I also feel that there is an innate ability that I’ve been given by some divine force that gave me the ability to be who I am. A blue chip artist is someone who is successful financially and well-remembered and sales are always constantly increasing and that is because of my fortunate luck but also based on my studies, my background and my history I feel that that is also a catalyst that gives me a direction to be a blue chip artist. With regards to being a fine art curator that just comes with time.
Explain your artistic philosophy of Existential Surrealism?
Existential Surrealism is a terminology that I coined – I created those two words based on my philosophy and my philosophy is a question about life and the universe. Everyone wants to know about why are we here? What is the purpose and meaning of our life? So my goal of Existential Surrealism is trying to understand what our purpose and meaning in this world is and do we exist or is this just a dream or a manipulated and computer-generated idea so as philosophers in the past or present try to understand do we exist and if we do – what is the meaning of life? So my purpose and my philosophy is in essence trying to explain and to give somewhat of an answer through my Existential Surrealism art. My sculptures and paintings are a door or a window for those who want to enter and understand more about my philosophy and my take on the purpose and meaning of life.
What was the most someone paid for your art work and what was the piece of art?
A couple years ago, one of my sculptures sold for $3.5 million. The sculpture is called Celestial Sphere of Unity. It is a monumental sculpture based of six figures – three male and three female – masculine and feminine – the bodies are beautiful but incomplete. I used no models so these figures represent the energy of who we are and that we need each other in this celestial universe. This sculpture was unveiled on Rodeo Drive a few years ago.
How long does it take for you to complete an art work and explain what takes patience or a lot of time when you are working on an art piece?
In terms of how long it takes for me to create artwork, typically I can create a painting (oil on canvas) in about a week or two weeks. The composition and the figures come to life when I create since I use no models – I have recall of anatomy that is technically very easy for me to create. I do not sketch or plan – it just happens spontaneously. But the more complex are my three-dimensional sculptures because technically I can create the sculptures very fast but I use the lost wax process which has been done for thousands of years. I create the sculptures in clay. Typically with clay I can create it in a few days for a small piece – may be a few weeks for the large ones however to transform the clay through the lost wax process and create it ultimately in bronze, lucite or stainless steel is a long process. It takes time to mold the clay, get a master mold, create the wax from it, shell the wax and then pour liquid bronze or liquid metal in the shell so that takes time – things have to dry and set before I can go to the next stage. Creating a sculpture through the lost wax process can take three to six months for just one sculpture.
You have two beautiful Winn Slavin Fine Art galleries in Beverly Hills. How did you manage to open not one but two prestigious art galleries?
We have two beautiful galleries in Beverly Hills and one of them is on Rodeo Drive. About six and half years ago, we decided to open a gallery in Beverly Hills which was a feat in itself because Beverly Hills is very complex and a very difficult place to have a retail gallery, let alone on Rodeo Drive so for several months I tried to call the brokers and tried to get space in Beverly Hills. It was very difficult but I was fortunate to meet one of my art collectors who knew a broker in Beverly Hills and as a favor they called me. When they saw my work and presented it to the landlord, the landlord was thrilled and impressed and decided to take a chance on me to have a space on Santa Monica Blvd. Then recently about a year and half ago, during COVID, there was an opportunity to expand. I really wanted to be on Rodeo Drive but I knew that it was almost impossible to attain. I heard it was extremely difficult because every name brand company wants to be on Rodeo Drive but I am here. I am not as big as the biggest name brands out there but I took a chance and ultimately I feel that divine intervention got involved. I was competing with major brand names for the location that we have on Rodeo and the location is the centerpiece of Rodeo Drive if not the best location and this new landlord decided to take a chance and decided to have my work and our gallery there. I was very shocked and pleasantly surprised and I feel that I’ve been blessed and there is a reason and purpose that I was accepted to be on Rodeo and that is to make sure that my art communicates in a way people can appreciate my art on an intellectual, emotional and spiritual level.
Explain more about the experimental art film entitled “Creation” that you are working on right now?
I just finished an experimental film called “Creation’. Being in Los Angeles, we became part of the sponsors for the Asian World Film Festival which is the equivalent to the Oscars for Asia. I created all the awards for the Asian World Film Festival and recently I created the award for the Bruce Lee Award. Because I’m in Hollywood, I am connected with a lot of directors and producers who wanted to bring my artwork to life on the big screen. “Creation” is a short film about the creation of two sculptures. The whole concept of the movie is basically without chaos and destruction, there will be no life and order. When people see this movie, they will have a better understanding of my artwork and philosophy.
The premiere is scheduled for November 17, 2022 at the Director’s Guild of America in Hollywood. It coincides with the Asian World Film Festival Closing Evening so my film, “Creation” will be the opening act of an Academy Award nominated movie that will be showcased that evening.
What is your ultimate dream as an artist?
My ultimate dream as an artist is to have a legacy. I am the only child and I am the last of my legacy family link and I have no children and in essence my artwork – they are my children and there is no more of my mark in this world in terms of my DNA, however I would like my artwork, vision and philosophy of universal truth to hopefully last indefinitely even when I pass through this world.
Which artist (living or dead) do you admire the most and why?
My all-time admiration for an artist who I feel is also a mentor regarding my philosophy is Leonardo da Vinci. And the reason why I feel da Vinci is to me one of the greatest passed artists in history is that he was not only an artist, per se as a painter and sculptor but he was also an engineer, an architect, a biologist, a philosopher, a poet, a musician – he was everything and that is why he was considered to be a Renaissance artist. I feel that as an artist; people refer to me now as “the modern Renaissance artist” because I am more than just a painter or a sculptor, I am also a scientist, a physicist, an engineer, an architect and all that needs to be learned and required if you are working at the foundry. I am also a poet, a musician and now I’m doing a little acting. Because I feel that all that is necessary whether it is visual art or performance art – all that is necessary for you to understand your life in existence through your experiences to truly communicate the artwork that you are trying to convey to the viewer. So the reason why da Vinci is my idol is that he is able to communicate through all of us because he was not just a painter or sculptor but was able to understand the vast and various aspects of experiences through medicine, through science, through philosophy and then communicating it through art. My goal is to do the same – learning and experiencing what I can throughout the whole scope of my existence and then putting it on canvas or on three-dimensional sculptures to convey that message to the world and what I call my visual language or languages.
What message or legacy you would like to leave behind to the world as an artist?
The message that I want to leave a legacy behind is a quote that I coined:
“The only true measure of our lives is the positive influence we have in the lives of others and on humanity as a whole”.
What this means is that our existence in this world is very limited so the positive influence you have on others is how each of us is going to be remembered long past the time that we are in existence here so my message is that while you are here, in this short period of time, sharing and borrowing or leasing this organic shell, what I feel is important is to create a positive influence so when you leave – future generations can appreciate, understand, learn and carry that part of your positive influence legacy on for our future generations and cultures to improve and better humanity.
Visit Winn Slavin Fine Art galleries:
9532 S. Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, Ca 90210
202 North Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills, Ca 90210
Tel: (310) 362-3090
2575 Liuxiang Road
Shanghai, Chinam 201818
12-12 Duong N, Phoung
Thong Nhat, Bien Hoa