1938: was born at Thanh Liem District, Ha Nam province, Vietnam.
Graduted from the Hanoi, Vietnam Fine – Arts University
Member of the Vietnamese Fine – Arts Association
Member of the Hanoi Arts Association
He is very well-known with his big lacquer and oil paintings (size 10 to 20m) of great subjects shown at solemn places, such as: The Meeting Hall, Office of the Party Center Committee, Office of the National Assembly, Ministry of National Defense.
A BRUSH WITH HANOI
Van Tho ( his name literally means ‘literary poem’ – his parents were writers and artists) is one such successful artist. His five-storey house on the outskirts of Hanoi is opulent in its size, yet understarted in its furnishings. It is what you’d expect of a successful painter. The walls are filled with his work; in some of th high-walled rooms it seems as if the ceilings are held up by his paintings. His house also serves as a gallery for some of his select collectors. And there are certain eccentric touches; a dove flies free around the house, resting on my hand while I sit on Van’s sofa sipping tea.
The 66-year-old painter’s work is big and abstract, almost primitive. Instead of a brush, he uses a trowel to apply paint to his canvases. Influenced by Picasso, his paintings are his renditions of faces and people; although he is quick to point out they are portraits of people that he sees in his mind.
Van started his artistic life as one of Vietnam’s Social Realist painters; his work still hangs in many of the government ministry buildings. His murals – a combination of painting and wood carving – are very complex scenes of pagodas, people working and pastoral village’s scenes. Each would take Van and his assistants up to a year to complete.
Kris LeBoutillier. Photographer and writer (Singapore Airline Magazine, May 2004)