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Meet Nha Vuu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nha Vuu.

Nha, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In 1979, my mother, father and I fled from our coastal town of Soc Trang in Vietnam to escape communist persecution. We lived for two years as refugees in Indonesia before we were granted asylum in the United States. In the face of my family’s objections, I returned to Asia in 1999 in order to study Chinese painting and travel abroad extensively.

Nha lived in Taiwan for nearly five years and had the privilege of studying under two masters. Lin Ruo-Yu and Cai Mao-Song. Master Lin schooled Nha in a classical style of painting that serves as the foundation for all Chinese art and dates back several thousand years. Undermaster Lin’s teaching Nha developed the traditional principles of unity, balance and movement. Master Cai, on the other hand, taught Nha a contemporary style of Chinese painting only developed in the last fifty years. Master Cai’s work emphasizes superior brushwork in order to lend density, depth and expressive power to mountains, trees, rocks and landscapes. The traditional painter uses fine solid strokes while the modern painter utilizes textured brushstrokes. Nha Vuu, a student of both schools, has combined the two methods to create her own unique body of work.

To better understand Nha’s style of painting we can look at the teaching of these two masters. Nha’s basic philosophy of painting was established by Master Lin and her emphasis on the balance between form and space. This means that the empty space of Master Lin’s paintings have the same importance as the plum blossom branch which reaches across the void. This gives her paintings the feeling of boundlessness and timelessness. In great Chinese paintings, a perfect balance exists between shapes and the void which defines them and these works are said to have Chi. Within the same frame, we see the influence of Master Cai and his “rhythmic abstractions.” Rhythmic abstractions are modern Chinese brushstrokes that lend texture, depth and density to a painting.

Master Cai has mastered this technique and his landscapes or trees appear to vibrate with life. By combining the teachings of two masters, Nha Vuu has developed her own style which embraces ancient yet sophisticated concepts of emptiness as well as contemporary brushstrokes which give her work “life-movement.” Her goal is to reintroduce an ancient art form and have it seen again with new eyes. Not in the sense of the fusion of eastern concepts and a western approach, but of an art form and genre that is moving forward.

During her travels to nearly twenty countries, she was able to sketch and take photographs for future projects as well as develop ideas for whole series of paintings which are always in the works. Since her return to the United States, she has shown in galleries and art shows around the country. Nha Vuu currently lives in Fort Collins Colorado with her husband, daughter and silver lab. For the past four years, they have worked on restoring their 1957 studio barn and 2-acre property that was previously an alpaca farm. Their future hopes for the property is to host artists and have it be a gathering place to celebrate art, music and creativity.

Has it been a smooth road?
Since my return from Asia nearly 15 years ago it has been a journey of learning, adapting, changing and sheer will and hard work. There aren’t any books that tell you exactly how to be an artist and every artist must decide on their own path. Each art has a different market and demographic and each artist has to decide what kind of art life they want. I started doing art full time the year the recession hit so the traditional means of making a living as an artist through galleries were no longer possible. With the help and support of my husband who helped me drive and set up shows and build all of my canvases, we hit the road and started doing fine art shows all around the country. It was the only way that we knew how to make steady income from art year-round. In the winter we would go to Florida, summers in the midwest and fall in texas. In our busiest years, we would put around 50,000 miles on our vehicle.

Shortly after the recession started my daughter was born and I had to learn how to be a parent while figuring out the business of art. All which was new to me. It was incredibly difficult at the time but in retrospect being a parent forced me to use my time wisely and gave me the strength to persevere, not only for myself but for my family. I knew that if we could survive the recession with a young child we would be able to overcome many obstacles. The lessons that we learned during those years has allowed me to thrive and push forward today. I’ve learned that the life of an artist is not a sprint but a marathon.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
My company name is Nha Vuu Studio and Design and my artwork is done mainly with ink and watercolor on handmade paper. The brushes that I use have wolf hair on the outside and rabbit on the inside. I can do most of my paintings with a single brush. I also make and sell my own prints in house. I made my own paper before my daughter was born but now I order it from a family paper making company in Tainan Taiwan where I once lived. My watercolors are particularly unique because of the way that the artwork is mounted. Most people can’t tell that they are watercolors. The paper is stretched utilizing a wet mount process that takes a month for the piece to cure and dry.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
For the past ten years, the art industry has changed rapidly from galleries no longer needing brick and mortars to artists now representing and promoting themselves. Artists in this day and age no longer need a gallery for legitimacy. Many successful tech-savvy artists have promoted themselves through untraditional means via social media and clever marketing. The rules are all different now and many artists are making their own rules. It is difficult at this point to see where the art industry is going however patrons are increasingly more comfortable purchasing art online. It is also important to have a 3rd party online representation to widen an artist’s audience.

Pricing:

  • my originals range from $650-$6800
  • my prints are from $65-$1200

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Lee Vuu

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