Victor Douieb’s passions run deep and are many, appearing to combine these notions of beauty and the sublime into one singular yet somewhat circular activity: when he sees a beautiful animal in its natural surroundings, he experiences something impossible to describe with words alone and is compelled to re-create the encounter in artistic form. Through this process, he closes the circle — from natural beautiful form to artistically beautiful form. Asked where his true passion ultimately lies, Victor cites the crossroad of his elemental love of all animals and the sense of adventure he derives from the pursuit of getting as close to them as he can. Whether it’s scuba diving with sharks of all manner or getting into an enclosure with a tiger or wolf, witnessing these beings in their world with such deep respect for them is key to this distinctive rendering of immersion therapy. One of his first and still current passions is deep sea diving; an avocation he’d once hoped might have become his profession.
As a boy growing up on the outskirts of Paris, France, animals with wildlife in particular captivated Victor as far back as he could remember. One of his earliest childhood memories was around age seven and skipping school to sneak into the circus when it had come to town. Standing as close as possible to the elephant and lion enclosures the scent of those powerful creatures became seared into his memory. To such a young boy their immensity created a potent and indelible impression.
At 13 his family would vacation on the beaches of Spain each summer while he would instead spend his time at a nearby equestrian center, trading chores in the stable for a chance to learn how to ride horses. Victor would eventually become an excellent horseman and even own several Appaloosas as an adult. But his passion for animals truly ignited when he read Jacques Cousteau’s seminal work Le Monde Du Silence (The Silent World). Its subtitle “A story of undersea discovery and adventure, by the first men to swim at record depths with the freedom of fish” bewitched the young teen. He yearned to grow up and become one Dr. Cousteau’s “Aquanauts” so that he too could experience the magic of this hidden underwater universe.
Although that particular variation of his diving pursuits went unrealized, in the coastal waters of southern France when he was 18 Victor received his scuba diving certification. During the following decades, the adventurer would travel extensively to dive the exotic locales of Fiji, the Bahamas, the coast of Egypt, and elsewhere. He would go to Kenya on a safari to see great wild beasts such as the rhino and hippo, each new experience effectively building upon the previous. “I’d seen my first shark when I was diving in Egypt,” Victor remembers, “and as I kid I was always crazy about sharks for some reason. To get that close to one of the world’s greatest apex predators, knowing that they are tolerating your presence in their world, is a humbling experience.”