Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — A collection of 130 photos of women by noted Vietnamese photographer Nguyễn Quốc Dũng is being published this month in a retrospective of his 20-year career.
The collection, entitled “Mùa Nắng Phai” (Season of Faded Sunlight, includes black and white, color and photoshopped photos capturing Vietnamese women in traditional áo dài (long dress) and áo yếm (brassieres).
“These are the best photos I have taken in the past 20 years,” Dũng, who is better known as Dzung Art, told Việt Nam News. “At first, I took photos of women in traditional costumes to collect materials for drawings. The more photos I took, the more inspiration I found and the more encouragements I got from audiences.”
The photos reflect Dung’s start as a painter, being a combination of painting and photography.
“Each kind of art (like painting, photography…) has its own language and life,” commented painter Lê Thiết Cương, “They don’t have to depend on one another to co-exist. But when all these arts mix in an artwork, they complement each other. This requires the professonalism of an artist.”
“In ‘Mùa Nắng Phai’, Dzung Art succeeded in doing that,” he added.
The painting feature in Dũng’s photos is more like graphics with flat surfaces, very few details and clear outlines, Cương noted.
Dũng’s women are featured in traditional long dresses, brassieres, long skirts posing in old houses, small ponds, by wells at a pagoda, in front of a village gate, or women floating candles on a river, or gently rowing on a river.
“In our modern daily hustle and bustle, we rarely come across traditional long dress of brassieres,” Dũng said. “That’s why through these photos, I want to take audience to quiet moments to watch, feel the beauty of traditional costumes as well as the grace of Vietnamese women. I believe this is my own contribution to preserve traditional culture.”
The “Mùa Nắng Phai” photos tend to focus on simple, warm shades, and the women have a gentle beauty yet exude energy.
“Dzung Art is a greedy man, who always combines in a photo two factors of journalistic photography and art photography,” Cương said, “He cares about content and form while taking a photo. He seems to kill the depth in traditional photography when putting the camera right in front of the subject, not moving it up or down.
“’Season of Faded Sunlight’” means the past season of sunlight,” Dũng said. “It doesn’t completely disappear but gradually fades in our minds.”
“Traditional long dress and brassieres are my focus through all my creation process,” he said. “I think these are not costumes that women wear on special occasions like women wear the transformed versions nowadays. To me, the costumes are beautiful as simple daily wear women wore in the past century.”
The book will be officially launched nationwide in August while the photos will be displayed at a solo photo exhibition titled Gió Hội An (Hội An Wind) in Hội An City between August 16 and 22. — VNS