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BOOKS

20.03.2020

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How lucky that the sun in Portugal shines so intensely, making colours all the more brilliant and shadows deeper. It is not surprising that these light conditions have repeatedly inspired photographers to produce contrast-rich compositions. However, as David Gibson accurately mentions in his accompanying text, something that can easily become a cliché is, in Vasco Trancoso's case, “the spine, like a group of notes, that all together play a background melody”. Gibson himself is not only a renowned photographer; he is also co-founder of the In-Public international collective that focuses, in particular, on street photography.

With this magnificent book, Trancoso is establishing himself as a convincing proponent of contemporary street photography! His style is unmistakable, despite the fact that he only decided to dedicate himself fully to photography in recent years. In 2014, after retiring from his profession as a gastroenterology doctor, he rediscovered his passion for the medium. As he admitted in an interview, “I'm fascinated by the unpredictability of street photography, as in jazz and life. Now I have a daily routine where I shoot for myself and for pleasure – a healthy and redeeming obsession.”

Since 2014, the photographer has been out and about on the streets, primarily in his home town of Caldas da Rainha. He knows the city very well, having lived in it for nearly forty years. Yet, even so, his daily outings reveal all kinds of new discoveries. Since 2015, he has modified his visual language by choosing to photograph in colour; though black and white remains important to him, as a decisive contrast to colour. “In my interpretation of the street carnival, colour is the real protagonist – avoiding a merely illustrative role. In the geometry of colour blocks, I like to enhance compositions with dark silhouettes and deep shadows, transforming the image into an almost abstract 'patchwork' - upgrading composition over simple description. Shadows and silhouettes can act almost like a 'negative space' for colour,” Trancoso explained in an interview for the LFI blog. “The French impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir once said, 'I’ve been 40 years discovering that the queen of all colours is black'.”

Trancoso aligns himself with this understanding. Without the precise inclusion of deep black, the diversity of colours would appear simply as colourful: the photographer's artistry is evident in this interplay that underlines his motifs. The Leica Q that he has been using exclusively since 2016, is largely responsible for enabling Trancoso to realise his exceptional artistry. The perfect composition of surfaces, space and lines, combined with an inimitable sense for colour, light and shadows, is very evident and clear for all to see in these 99 pieces of work. (Ulrich Rüter)

Vasco Trancoso, 99
144 pages, 99 colour pictures. Portuguese/English. 24.5 x 30.5 cm.
With texts by David Gibson and Paulo Abrantes.
The book can be ordered through the photographer: vasco.trancoso@gmail.com

All images on this page © Vasco Trancoso
© Vasco Trancoso

Vasco Trancoso

Vasco Trancoso was born in Lisbon in 1944, and has lived in Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, since 1983. After retiring, the gastroenterologist has turned, once again, to his old hobby of photography. “On the streets, I am happy to discover daily miracles that arise as fragments of a parallel dimension, where the ordinary and banal can be extraordinary.”

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