“When we close our eyes, we see shadows of the infinite, disorientation, profound depth… not just the literal meaning of shadows. And when we open our eyes, we see many things: sun and wind, air, objects, people… This ‘eye-opening’ moment could be at any time, in any mood, can ‘catch’ any subject, can recall any atmosphere.”
Tran Van Thao is one of Vietnam’s foremost abstract painters, although his subject matter can be grounded and concrete. The city, his family, and surrounding landscapes are sources of inspiration for him as much as the vagaries of the human condition.
Tran is an artist who finds beauty in the unruliness of life, and who expresses his awe of such unpredictability though abstract art. Influenced by American Abstract Expressionism, he plays with line and colour, rejoicing in possibilities as serendipitous as those that life throws in our paths.
Tran’s work can be raw with primitivist markings or rich with color fields. Veils of oil paint, scumbled areas of depth, papier-mâché, collage and brazen linear shapes are all basic ingredients of his stylistic repertoire.
Born in 1961 in Saigon, Tran Van Thao graduated from the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts University. He has held numerous exhibitions in Asia, Europe and the U.S. and his works are in public and private collections in Vietnam and abroad. 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.