Tran Van Thao


Tran Van Thao (b. 1961, Saigon) is one of Vietnam's foremost abstract painters, whose varied means of expression - gestural brushstrokes, crumpling fabrics, cut canvas, scrapes and scratches - challenge the notion of the flat picture plane. Though the artist's individual markings and rich colour fields are significant points of interest in and of themselves, that his compositions retain a sense of harmony and balance attest to his immense technical skill. For Tran, inspiration comes from the humble yet dynamic experience of everyday life, as well as the immediacy of his surroundings. As one explores the subtle textures on his canvas, or travels along with his decisive lines, one becomes enveloped in a contemplative mood, an atmosphere that invites introspection and mindfulness. 

In addition to his artistic accomplishments, Tran Van Thao is also a prominent figure in the development of Vietnam's arts scene, pushing the boundaries of what can be accepted as art within the canon. The artist belonged to the historic Group of 10, an influential collective of painters formed in 1992. In a few short years - the group dissolved in 1996 - they catalysed the process to recognise Abstraction as a legitimate genre of the visual arts. His dedication to further the language of abstraction is evident in later works, where his airy canvases provide a supporting hand through all weather systems and fantastic voyages.  

Tran Van Thao graduated from the Ho Chi Minh University of Fine Arts in 1986, and has since held numerous exhibitions across Asia, Europe, and the U.S. Selected international exhibitions include Out of Context, Huntington Beach Art Center, Huntington Beach, California, USA; Art Festival for World Peace, Seoul Arts Center, Seoul, Korea; ASEAN Art Awards, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; On the Horizon, Pacific Bridge Contemporary Southeast Asian Art, Oakland, California, USA; L'Anima Soffocata, Musei Biblioteca Archivio, Bassano del Grappa, Italy; Paris, Hanoi, Saigon: The Adventures of Modern Art in Vietnam, Pavillon des Arts, Paris, France; The Finest Collection from Sister Cities, Pusan Metropolitan Art Museum, Busan, Korea; Man and Woman, H&S Gallery, Brussels, Belgium. Travelled to Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco, Singapore; From the Red River to the Mekong: The New Trend in Vietnamese Art, Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles, Paris, France; A Winding River: The Journey of Contemporary Art in Vietnam, Meridian International Center, Washington, D.C., USA. Travelled to various venues in the United States; 11th International Contemporary Asian Art Exhibition, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines; Vietnamese Art After Doi Moi, Fujita Vente Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan; 10th International Contemporary Asian Art Exhibition, Singapore National Art Museum, Singapore; Ito Yama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan; and Contemporary Vietnamese Art Exhibition, Tropical Museum, The Hague, The Netherlands. In 2002, he was the recipient of the Asian Cultural Council's Starr Foundation Fellowship, and spent four months as an artist-in-residence in New York. 

Tran Van Thao lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City.