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Van Thao: "Painting with the passion of life"

Unable to be a soldier for the dream of being a military writer, Van Thao quit his study and came to Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel Industrial Zone to be a crane operator and cherished the hope of being a painter. Dozens of years passed, he has been an author of thousands of propaganda posters and slogans of labor safety. And most of all, he is the one who inspires students loving painting job...

Painter Van Thao - Photo: Photographer Vu Huyen


Painter Van Thao (born 1957) was born and grew up in a non-artistic family. He was originally a crane operator in the Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel Industrial Zone. He was sent to study painting and to be a painter drawing propaganda posters. It can be said he followed the painting job as a fate.

Painting job unexpectedly came to him, but it probably did not. He has loved painting in his early age. He said: "I loved painting and I also loved literature and poetry. Everyday crossing streets of Nga Son, I found painter Long drawing anti-American propaganda posters with various materials as bricks, charcoal or battery cores. I felt relieved. Sitting in the classroom, sometimes I heard nothing from the teachers because I wished the class would end soon, so I could see the painter painting”.

AGLANCEOFHOIAN- Acerylic, 50cm x 70cm

There is a very interesting fact that many people have mistaken him for painter Van Thao- the eldest son of the late musician Van Cao. Recently, the meeting between two artists named Van Thao took place at the family of teacher - painter Van Thao (Thai Nguyen). Here, painter Van Thao, the eldest son of the late musician Van Cao, visited the gallery, enjoyed artworks, including a portrait of the late composer Van Cao.

As a propaganda painter, he always drew with his own passion, with the love of his profession. Each propaganda poster was painted vividly with full creativity and art. He would take out cumbersome details and added a few strokes to highlight the main content. Therefore, his works were always vivid.

In addition, Van Thao has been known as a famous portrait painting painter. To him, portraying a character is an endless source of inspiration for his artistic creativity. He confided: "In our life, there are many beautiful faces in our lives. They have both appearance beauty and soul beauty, showing in their ideas and their contributions to the community and to the society. How to describe these faces in art is a thing that I has been interested in long”.

His works are normally portraits of artists, politicians and will be typical faces as leaders of corporations, and enterprises who has contributed greatly in the country’s developments and economic integration.

PARK HANG SEO - Oil Painting, 50cm x 50cm (Painting ӆ VILLAGE BUFFALOS - Oil Painting, 60cm x 80cm auctioned belongs to Hai Tien Paper Company, Hanoi)


He always ponders how to pass down the job to young ones with the same passion and enthusiasm like him. Not very academic, he has taught his students with his own rustic way- like the way he loves his job. He has carefully guided his students- from those of the lowest level to those of higher ones- with single stroke of paintbrush. He confided: "I who knew a little teach those who know nothing”. From his “little knowledge”, there have been over 1,000 students from his “cram school” having passed entrance exams to big universities and then becoming talented painters or architects".

Portrait works by Van Thao describe characters’ unique figures with the best combination of realistic and artistic painting skills that I have ever known.

Painter Hoang Duc Toan, Former Director of Vietnam Fine Arts Administration

Spending most of his life on painting job, Van Thao always reminds his students: "To be good in the job, an architect or a designer needs to have the soul of a poet, the golden hand of an artist and the mind of an engineer”. Each single design is an intellectual product with the essence of regional culture and the breath of time. Therefore, each student has to improve their own painting skills to ‘touch’ the beauty and the soul of the country. Then they can create new things with their own unique features and eliminate inept patchwork from computer tools. Each hand painting with various artistic materials allows us to recreate the love of life, the love of our country and the love of ourselves.

Besides professional knowledge, he usually told stories of artistic “good examples”, of those overcoming difficulties and of master pieces of art... They are inspiration to his students, making their passion burning.

Now, at the age of 64- the age to retire, he still wants no rest: he wants to spend time on his passion- painting with his passion, painting as a mean of meditation for health, painting to make life more colorful.

Not leading a loose life like other famous artist, Van Thao has chosen to live a good healthy life. Not for health reason only, he wishes to be a perfect teacher to his students. It is also possible he has chosen to live a good healthy life like those who inspired him as Painter Van Tho, Painter Hoang Duc Toan, Prof- Painter Nguyen Van Ty, Prof. – Painter Luong Xuan Nhi or Van Thao (son of the musician Van Cao’s).

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