homecominggallery homecominggallery

Do you know that feeling of waking up from a comforting dream – its contours still a bit hazy – that clings to you throughout the day? That’s what the work of up-and-coming photographer Chiron Duong feels like. Through a visual language that both hinges upon Vietnamese tradition and Eastern culture, a distinctive color palette and an ability to capture the most delicate of movements, the photographer has been carving out an entirely unique space for himself – drawing in an international audience along the way. Best described as a dream-like exploration of personal memories, folklore and mysticism, his work offers a refreshing take on traditional aesthetics. Take Portraits of Áo Dài Ao Dai for example, a 365-day photographic journey, in which he explored a Vietnamese garment called ‘áo dài’. A tunic characterized by an elegant high neck, soft round shoulders and graceful sleeves, worn over silk trousers, this is not just a traditional dress, but a multifaceted embodiment of the nation’s spirit and pride.

The project is emblematic of his modus operandi: centering an emotive part of his culture, but combining it with props and photography techniques that have a highly contemporary feel. What emerges is a vibrant and timeless body of work, through which the artist hopes to put forward new ways of seeing and imagining Vietnam. Here, he reflects on how he shifted from landscape architecture to photography, why flowers are so important in his work, and what his proudest project is.

When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in the arts?
It was 2021 when I realized I was ready to pursue a career in art photography. Prior to that, I was still torn between landscape architecture and photography. I didn't really know what I was looking for and who I was until then.

You initially settled on landscape architecture. What drew you to this field in the first place?
In the years before I decided to study this, I thought I had a gift for drawing and I just knew that I could study architecture. I was born and raised in a rural area, however, and at that time, contemporary art forms were not something you were really exposed to. So my family did not approve of me studying an art form. I understood their anxiety, so I chose landscape architecture to balance out my aptitude for drawing and my family’s dreams. But I also chose landscape architecture because I thought it would be great to learn about plants and also to be creative with them. Plants and flowers in particular evoke a certain softness and dreaminess that inspires me to this day.

Is there an overlap between architecture and photography?
There are many similarities. The first in the ability to create spatial emotions by color, material, shapes, depth of field and composition. The second is the ability to link images together to create an experience for the viewer. But there are also parallels to how you approach both disciplines, particularly when it comes to the research phase. In both cases, you have to take the social context into consideration. I have always always been interested in the connection between the natural and the human, the rural and the urban – which transpires in both disciplines. In my work I apply the landscape architect’s way of thinking to finding the subject and implementing a photography idea. Both require keen observation, contemplation, and judgment.

You are currently based in Ho Chi Minh City. How would you describe the creative scene there?
It is up-and-coming and dynamic, and young people like myself are eager to leave an imprint. The population composition here is diverse – creating a plethora of lifestyles, professions and colors. It is, however, still very much in development, so in terms of artistic infrastructure and support, there is still a lot to be gained. But in terms of openness and creativity, this is the place that gives me a lot of motivation. While I do try to extend my network globally as much as I can, I also enjoy collaborating with local creatives. For the past few projects, which were more community-focussed, I worked with local artists and graphic designers, for example on heritage promotion and planting mangroves.

Your aesthetic bridges the East and the West, tradition and modernity. Could you elaborate on how you bring these different worlds and styles together?
In my research, I get inspired by the huge variety of landscapes the East harbors, and how these affect the color palette and aesthetics of the region. For example, Vietnam with its hot and sunny climate and tropical trees brings about a vibrancy in colors, whereas Japan, known for its falling blossom petals, is more muted, and China with its majestic landscape creates a sense of immensity. I believe these landscapes have brought about their own philosophies and emotions that I try to capture. Complemented by Western techniques, I create a combined feel and aesthetic.

Flowers and other natural elements are a leitmotif in your work. In what way do they inspire your photography and creative process?
Flowers have a lot of symbolic meaning, particularly in Vietnam, so I like to play around with them in my photography. On the one hand, they can be an expression of tenderness and romance, but on the other hand they can sacrifice, hopelessness and separation. Take chrysanthemums for example, which have a noble quality, but also impermanence, coming down like rain when the petals fall. Lotus flowers represent simplicity and delicacy, but at the same time they evoke the fragility of a woman. I like to imbue my photography with these ambiguous meanings.

What has been the project you are most proud of so far?
Portrait Of Áo Dài. For me it's not just a project about traditional Vietnamese dresses, but above all it provides me with the opportunity to get to know myself deeply and connect with others. In my early years of photography, I struggled because I thought I was too young to be immersed in traditional culture. But that changed when I received an award in France for my photography, prompting international journalists to ask me something which has haunted me ever since: “Does Vietnamese traditional culture influence your style?” This question really kickstarted the project, and made me embark on a journey of appreciating my origin and of bridging the gap between tradition and the modern world. With this project I want to tackle some prejudices Vietnamese artists, and people in general, have had to deal with: that Vietnam is all about wars. No, wars have ended. And yet, many still think of Vietnam as a miserable country injured by wars and its lingering shadows. I am of a young generation born in a period of peace in the country. I see how Vietnam develops every day in so many different ways, so I need to create to let the world know how beautiful my country is. This project is therefore my message and my pride as a child of Vietnam.

homecominggallery homecominggallery

BIO

b. 1996,, Dat Duong, Vietnam
Lives and works Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Awards and recognitions

The Picto Prize for Fashion Photography 2020, France
The 37th Hyeres Festival 2022, France
PhotoVogue Festival 2022, Italy

Chiron Duong

Bee
from $936.68
Bee
from the series 'Boundaries', 2021 Giclée on Hahnemuhle Fine Art PearlSuggested framing: black, w/ border Chiron Duong is a fashion photographer known for his ethereal scenes portraying the mystique, charm, and rich heritage of Vietnamese and Asian culture in general. A master...
from $936.68
Add to Wish List
#342
from $936.68
#342
from the series 'Portraits Of “Ao Dai', 2022 Giclée on Hahnemuhle Fine Art PearlSuggested framing: black, w/ border Chiron Duong is a fashion photographer known for his ethereal scenes portraying the mystique, charm, and rich heritage of Vietnamese and Asian culture in general....
from $936.68
Add to Wish List
#334
from $936.68
#334
from the series 'Portraits Of “Ao Dai', 2022 Giclée on Hahnemuhle Fine Art PearlSuggested framing: black, full bleed Chiron Duong is a fashion photographer known for his ethereal scenes portraying the mystique, charm, and rich heritage of Vietnamese and Asian culture in general....
from $936.68
Add to Wish List
#283
from $936.68
#283
from the series 'Portraits Of “Ao Dai', 2022 Giclée on Hahnemuhle Fine Art PearlSuggested framing: black, full bleed Chiron Duong is a fashion photographer known for his ethereal scenes portraying the mystique, charm, and rich heritage of Vietnamese and Asian culture in general....
from $936.68
Add to Wish List
A Bird
from $936.68
A Bird
from the series 'Blog', 2023 Giclée on Hahnemuhle Fine Art PearlSuggested framing: black, w/ border Chiron Duong is a fashion photographer known for his ethereal scenes portraying the mystique, charm, and rich heritage of Vietnamese and Asian culture in general. A master of...
from $936.68
Add to Wish List
Mysterious Caves in the Desert
from the series 'Boundaries', 2021 Giclée on Hahnemuhle Fine Art PearlSuggested framing: black, w/ border Chiron Duong is a fashion photographer known for his ethereal scenes portraying the mystique, charm, and rich heritage of Vietnamese and Asian culture in general. A master...
from $936.68
Add to Wish List
Silent Land
from the series 'Boundaries', 2021 Giclée on Hahnemuhle Fine Art PearlSuggested framing: black, full bleed Chiron Duong is a fashion photographer known for his ethereal scenes portraying the mystique, charm, and rich heritage of Vietnamese and Asian culture in general. A master of...
from $936.68
Add to Wish List
6PM
from $936.68
6PM
from the series 'Boundaries', 2021 Giclée on Hahnemuhle Fine Art PearlSuggested framing: black, full bleed Chiron Duong is a fashion photographer known for his ethereal scenes portraying the mystique, charm, and rich heritage of Vietnamese and Asian culture in general. A master of...
from $936.68
Add to Wish List
You have successfully subscribed!