Van Tho was born in 1938 in Ha Nam Province, Vietnam. He graduated from the Hanoi Fine Arts University, and is a member of the Vietnamese Fine Arts Association and the Hanoi Arts Association. Notable for his large-scale lacquer and oil paintings, Van Tho combines traditional and modern painting styles, employing line, shape, bold contrasting colours and abstract forms. He foregoes brushes and instead uses a trowel to paint. Starting out as a social realist, his works retell tradition and often depict human figures in solemn places.