Viet Nam News
Photographer Dương Quốc Định has been known internationally for his nude photography since 2000. His work has won many awards including, gold medals and trophies at the 68th International Photographic Salon of Japan; the 61st Hong Kong International Photography Festival; the International Federation of Art Photographers (FIAP) competition; the 7th Giuliano Carrara, and many others held in India, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Argentina, Spain and Italy.
Since he was a little boy, he has been passionate about drawing. He graduated from Industrial Graphics of Đồng Nai Fine Arts College in 1989. Định was one of the 10 excellent artists recognized by the Đồng Nai People Committee in 2007. His nude photography was displayed at an exhibition held in 2006 in Biên Hòa City, in the southern province of Đồng Nai.
He discussed his career, the place of nude photography in society, and about some of his work that has not yet been displayed to the public.
You studied painting Đồng Nai Fine Arts College. Why did you become a photographer specialising in nude photography ?
Photography is like a brush for me to paint. I take advantage of aspects of photography in my work which painting doesn’t have. Photography has helped me to turn my ideas into reality and made me feel free to create art. I like the truth of emotion and light which photography can make. I combine painting techniques with photography to take nude photos. Additionally, digital technology and photoshopsoftware enable me to complete the photos.
Nude photography is my strength. Social preconception is unavoidable in a nation which is still progressing towards international integration. Certainly, Việt Nam used to be a feudal country, strongly affected by Confucius culture.
My nude photos have become popular to the public in many ways. Many Vietnamese and international publications have published and written about my nude photos. But I have not yet organised a nude photo exhibition despite winning hundreds of photography awards for my nude photos.
While photographers often make nude photographs of celebrities in show business, almost all of your models are not from that circle. Is it your intent to look for and honour feminine beauty from ordinary people, or is it simply more difficult to co-operate with famous people?
Celebrity is not important to me. The most important thing is that the models have figure and characters which suit my creative plan. I’m selective in choosing the models. My thousands of nude photos are taken from only ten models because each year I focus on working with one model only.
An exhibition of nude painting was organised at Việt Nam Museum of Fine Arts recently. This demonstrated that society is becoming more comfortable with nude paintings, but the same has not happened nude photography. What do you think ?
Around the world, nude art is created in many media. I think that nude photos should be popularised to people but this also requires cultural tastemakers who dare to cope with conservative opinions. Nude photography has not been prohibited but it has been also ignored. This leads to nude photography growing quietly and with little official acknowledgement.
The border between art and obscenity is very thin in nude photos. If the photographer can handle the concepts of truth, goodness and beauty, though, anyone can appreciate his idea. There are a few domestic newspapers that occasionally publish news on nude photography, but they have not helped the public to know what exactly is nude photography, and to distinguish between art photos and erotic photos.
How’s about body painting ? Do you paint on bodies?
Yes, I do, because I’m a painter before a photographer. This is subject that combines two of my abilities: photography and painting. Body painting is an independent art, but it is amazing to take body painting photos.
Why do you usually photograph models with a natural background such as water; flowers, trees, and even with animal like pythons? What is the message?
It is a method to form combinations. Choosing method depends on the ability of each photographer, making his work distinctive. Like painting, seeing a painting style the profession can know who is painter. A photographer has his own style which has formed during long years of working. I think it is not important to combine this with that. If the combination will make the work perfect or valuable it is the most important.
Have you ever lusted for a beautiful body ?
Many people ask me this question. If I say no, it is not true, because if I’m not attracted by a beautiful body I will not be inspired to take photo. More than I can say, I love the feminine body. It should be called "love.” I respect the feminine beauty and show off my "love" through my artwork.
Furthermore, the artist needs to transform his emotion into his energy to create artwork and introduce it to the public so that they may enjoy the beauty. The artist needs a long time to experience and control himself.
Do you sell the nude photos and give commission to your models ?
The models are not only my counterpart. I’m known thanks to their help. I haven’t sold the nude photos, although I know many people and galleries copy my photos from internet to sell. They don’t contact me for permission.
I hope to publicize officially all my nude photos one day. If I could sell them I would carry out agreement between the models and I. It will be great if the models can earn from the nude photos. — VNS