Ha Manh Thang - profile

Ha Manh Thang


December 18, 2014

Ha Manh Thang is a Vietnamese painter, born in 1980 in Thai Nguyen Province. The most common subject matter in his works are memories, history, and cultural heritage of both East and West.

Ha Manh Thang graduated from Hanoi Fine Arts University in 2004. His paintings on canvas or paper are rich in texture, layers and meaning. He is considered as one of Vietnam’s most important young painters, and he was also the only artist from Vietnam profiled in the Phaidon publication Painting Today in 2009, alongside acclaimed artists such as Gerhard Richter, Neo Rauch and Peter Doig.

Bridging modernity and tradition, Ha Manh Thang's satirical paintings examine Vietnam's culture and social history within the context of the dramatic changes the country has undergone since Doi Moi, an economic liberalization and reforms in the mid-80s. His bold and colorful painterly canvases juxtapose Vietnam's past and its rich heritage with images of consumerist culture. The artist is inspired by themes of memories, history, and cultural heritage, from ancient towers at Angkor Wat and sporadic village communal houses in Vietnam’s rural north, to old costumes used by emperors and royal families during Vietnam's Le and Trinh dynasties in the 17th century.

Thang’s paintings can be viewed as a conscious choice in presenting his own world. For him, painting is a kind of behavior that neither glamourizes nor represents the world, but rather an attempt to understand the world. ’I am interested in how meaning is ascribed to historically and culturally significant images. My works usually weave images from my own cultural history and pop culture with the social necessities I find in contemporary life’, as the artist states. In his understanding, the world appears as neither Eastern nor Western. Rather, understanding is a process, where both the East and the West as two different world views become each other’s substance and effect, means and end, structure and form.

Ha Manh Thang has taken part in international exhibitions in Singapore, Germany, Hungary, Thailand, and the United States, and his works are in the permanent collection of the Singapore Art Museum.

He currently lives and works in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam.