In Conversation with Viet Ha Tran

Viet Ha Tran is an established photographer based in Spain. She deeply values the power of photography to visually capture feelings and immortalise precious moments in time. Viet also creates emotionally dense and compelling photographs of women and landscapes. One of her artworks, Mermaid in Ibiza VI, will be held for sale during SINGULART’s photography auction from June 17th to June 23rd.

Let’s explore Viet’s profile and what inspired her to shoot Mermaid in Ibiza.

Mermaid in Ibiza VI (2018), Viet Ha Tran

Viet, when and how did you know you were going to become an artist?

Since childhood I had been inspired by many forms of art and always dreamed of becoming an artist, because for me, it’s important to leave a legacy once I am gone, and creating art is a way to do that.
In my opinion, being an artist is a great gift you give to yourself – the gift of living your emotions to the fullest, of burning all your heart and passion, of exposing even your vulnerability and deepest fears into the process of creating art. In a sense, creating art and falling in love mean the same thing. True art comes from your own soul, your being, way of life and your desire of leaving part of you to the world every single day, and
therefore art is powerful. Art is also a gift you give to others, I am deeply touched when many art collectors tell me
that my art brings them happiness every morning when they wake up looking at the walls and that my soul and artistic vision are part of their life. I think that’s the biggest motivation and compensation for any artist.

What are your main artistic influences and which artists are you most inspired by? For which reasons?

I love Old Masters’ paintings (such as Rubens and Rembrandt), they are a great source of inspiration for me. I can spend hours at Prado Museum in Madrid, where I live. I am fascinated by the deep and intense colors of the old paintings, they are a feast to my eyes. Once I was at the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam, and I was totally mindblown to learn about the art process of the painter when I stepped into the studio space where he was painting (Rembrandt lived and worked in the house between 1639 and 1656). Many of my portrait works are inspired by the colors, spirit and atmospheres of paintings from the XVI to the XIX centuries.

My first university degree was Anglo-Saxon and American Languages and Cultures, when I started reading hundreds of books and novels which later on led to a keen interest in Asian philosophy, English and French classic literature, and mystic Persian poetry. Now, all these elements have become part of my art.

How were you inspired by shooting the MERMAID IN IBIZA photograph?

I had visited Ibiza several times before I shot the photographs of “Mermaid in Ibiza”. When I was there for the first time, I felt such freedom like never before in my life, it was blue ocean, blue sky and enormous space everywhere. The place just filled me with energy and I felt there is no limit to life and to my potential, that I could be whatever I can dream of. As a mermaid is a fabled marine creature who lives in the ocean, “Mermaid in Ibiza” expresses freedom, the infinity of life and the spirit “Everything you can imagine is real” (Picasso).

What message or which emotions would you like to convey through your photographs?

I admire beauty in all aspects, especially the kind of beauty that provokes and seduces you mentally, flirts with your soul and makes love with your spirit. Photography has such a unique ability of immortalizing that one moment in time that will disappear forever, hence it possesses the rare beauty of eternity and infinity. The camera is a tool I use to paint my world of feelings, poetry & philosophy and to transmit my inner dreams and the way I perceive life. I’d like to quote a great sentence by legendary photographer Ansel Adams to illustrate what I wish to convey through my photographs: “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved” .

Did you use a specific technique or printing process for this photograph?

This photograph was created based on the original photograph that I took in Ibiza and textures of my abstract paintings. When taking the photographs for Mermaid in Ibiza, I was standing on a high cliff while the model was swimming at the sea, 30 meters under from the cliff. It was a risky moment because I could have fallen into the water anytime with my heavy camera Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III! And the model was swimming against the strong waves.
This photograph will be printed on Canson Baryta Prestige 340gsm, which I have hand-selected to fit the spirit of the ocean and the reflection of the blue water. This paper is a smooth Baryta Gloss paper which evokes the look and aesthetic feel of traditional darkroom papers. It offers an extraordinary wide gamut which increases visual impact.
The paper texture is smooth and resembles fine Italian soft goat leather.