People’s Artist Nguyen Huu Tuan: Nothing is more beautiful than life around us

Wednesday, 2018-10-03 09:59:33
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People’s Artist Nguyen Huu Tuan (Photo:
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NDO – People’s Artist, Nguyen Huu Tuan, is displaying 50 selected back-and-white photos capturing the land and people in the Dong Van krast plateau at an ongoing exhibition entitled ‘Thu Dong Van’ (A Letter from Dong Van) in Hanoi.

The exhibition, which will run through October 15 at Ho Guom Centre for Culture and Information, is the fourth solo exhibition by the cameraman and photographer Nguyen Huu Tuan.

Choosing photography as a language to express his thoughts, Tuan’s pictures tell visitors about where he has visited, whom he has met, and what made them fall into the northern land of Vietnam.

On the occasion, Tuan granted an interview to Nhan Dan (People) Weekly Newspaper to talk more about the exhibition and his photography career.

Your photos on display at the exhibition have impressed visitors with their composition, lighting, and the clever use of different shades of black and white, as well the way they are arranged without no legends or captions. Why did you choose such an open way to display your exhibits?

I first visited Dong Van by chance. The trip brought me a mixture of profound feelings and a fresh experience, which urged me to tell others about what I met across the plateau. Resultantly, I have returned this land many times with my cameras.

During one of the later trips, I brought a filmmaking camera to better convey my feelings to the people. It is not an expensive or modern camera, but it helped me produce a documentary with my true emotions in my expected language.

Works on display at the ‘A Letter to Dong Van’ exhibition are back-and white pictures and all of them were captured by film cameras.

Half of them, displayed on the second floor of the exhibiting space, were printed, coated and illuminated entirely manually in a darkroom. The rest, showcased on the first floor and outside of the exhibition hall, were processed in the lab

I didn’t name or write captions for the photos because I think it is unnecessary. I just simply photograph in a way to tell the story of Dong Van.

People’s Artist Dang Nhat Minh has described you as an artist who is interested in seeking humble and idyllic beauty seen in everyday life rather than chasing gaudy or flashy things. Do you think that this is the correct description?

Not only in ‘A Letter from Dong Van’, I have always intended to take photos of the most humble images and moments. My photos do not capture a hot or a pressing issue or animated movements. However, they are real. I never set up or arrange my photos because nothing is more natural and beautiful than life happening around us.

By admiring photos at the exhibition, you can see that I was touched by the calm of a woman sitting on the side of the road, the serene scene of children tending their ox, or the joy of a poor family carrying a bunch of apricots. I cherish and appreciate every moment, because I can see my characters’ love and confidence in life.

As H’Mong people are not talkative, my photos do not generate “noisy” moments. I was not too curious to search for any “strange” features in their customs in order to satisfy the desire of an uptown man when he visits a remote area. Contrary to many people, I consider that attitude as a way which can hurt the indigenous identity of the local people.

Among your vast number of photos you have taken, are any of them products of fortune?

I have developed a steadfast decision in film cameras and I haven’t taken many photos. Each of them is taken with a clear intention and careful consideration.

To successfully take a photo, I have to wait a long time, to catch the calmest meditation of the character while nailing an exact composition, as well as the proper shade of the black and white colours.

That is not to mention the suspense lasted several days, when I did not know how the quality of the image would be until it was printed. After hours in the darkroom, the biggest reward I have received from my work is always a sense of surprise. That's it.

There might be a stroke of good fortune in my work sometimes, but I think that fortune only comes to those who are prepared and look for it.

Thank you so much for your interview.

Selected photos on display at the Thu Dong Van’ (A Letter from Dong Van) exhibition: