Hong Duc Thanh, who is now based in Norway, is the creator of many artworks that have stunned art enthusiasts. Most of his paintings are performed on thin, light ceramic products with an elegant shape and shiny enamel colours.


Painter Hong Duc Thanh (right) is pictured with his artwork painted on one of the world's thinnest ceramic bowls, crafted by Taiwanese artisan Huang Cheng-nan. Photo courtesy of the artist


One of his most praised works is an ornate painting on the thinnest ceramic bowl in the world, crafted by Taiwanese potter Huang Cheng-nan in 2010. Seven out of ten world's thinnest bowls created by Huang, which are just 0.09mm thick and 45cm in diameter, have been decorated by the Vietnamese artist.


One of the world's thinnest ceramic bowls is decorated by the Vietnamese artist. Photo courtesy of the artist


One of those ultra-thin bowls was displayed in the Shanghai museum and is valued at US$492,000.

“Thanh’s paintings are extremely delicate. Their patterns are elaborately drawn with sophisticated detail. A harmonious coordination between natural colours of both bold and thin, and hot and cold inhabit each work and showcase the artist’s gentle, skilful but decisive style,” said art critic Ngo Kim Khoi.


Thanh paints on a crystallised porcelain vase made by a Taiwanese artisan. Photo courtesy of the artist


Thanh’s hometown is Bien Hoa City in the southern province of Dong Nai, a locality that is famed for its highly delicate pottery.

“Due to poverty and the war, I missed the chance to learn the craft,” said the 62-year-old artist.

Thanh moved to Norway in 1978 when he was 17, during which period, ceramic painting was highly supported by the governments of northern European countries with many classes being opened. He was much interested in the art form, but decided to study mechanics, which he believed would provide him with a stable job after graduating.

Thanh’s motivator to pursue art is his Norwegian wife. Realising his passion, she constantly encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. He soon attended famed artisan Borghild Huseby's class and absorbed all of her knowledge and techniques.


His ceramic paintings have been appreciated for their delicacy, liveliness and extremely harmonious coordination of colours. Photo courtesy of the artist


Eager to hone his skill, Thanh studied the painting methods of countries around the world, and in 1987 even went to Taiwan Island where ceramics has flourished for centuries.

"After six months in Taiwan, I bought some books about ancient Chinese painting for further study. In 1988, I started to paint in my own style and accidentally was influenced by the books," Thanh said.

A fusion between Lingnan and Western style, and the old and modern, his painting technique is coined by experts as Brumunddal, which is the name of the town where he lives in Norway.

The pens he uses are ordered from Europe and America, while some colours even contain real gold powder, mixed with a special oil.

Normally, other ceramic painters must apply layers of colours from light to dark and bake the wares one or two times, but Thanh finishes his work and has it fired just once.

"I have not been professionally trained in arts and studied in any school, so I tend to paint what I have seen and loved.

"At first, I also painted the rural landscape in Vietnam, but then my themes were more influenced by western style due to years living in Europe. I then specialised in painting animals and scenery, but mostly flowers. I could paint over 80 kinds of flowers without even seeing models," Thanh said.

His ceramic paintings are appreciated by experts for their delicacy, liveliness and extremely harmonious combination of colours.

In 2010, he once painted a round ceramic picture that was 120cm in diametre and sold it for $25,000.

The artist of Vietnamese origin has also represented Norwegian fine arts to attend many international exhibitions, receiving much praise and recognition from experts around the world.

In May 2017, he was invited by the Lingnan National Porcelain Painting Research Association to attend the 13th International Exhibition in Shenzhen, together with other master artists in the art genre.

Thanh revealed that he had never made a sketch before any paintings, but was guided by his emotions and memories.

He has also never prepared any works beforehand to submit to the exhibitions, but performed his painting on the spot, which normally took around two to three hours. The painting on the world's thinnest ceramic bowl took him roughly 2.5 hours to finish.

Thanh is also passionate in spreading the art form to the younger generation. He was invited to teach at Flokeuniversitetet, and then to many other schools in other countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Japan, and Thailand.

He is currently running a class in his studio, Art Thanh Hong AS in Brumunddal, Norway.

The painter also helped to bridge the connection between Norwegian and Vietnamese arts by opening an exhibition in Norway featuring works by eight Vietnamese members of the HCM City Fine Arts Association in 2018. He wishes to be able to contribute to the art of his nativeland.

"When we first met, painter Thanh was very close to me, as if we had known each other for many lifetimes. His sincerity radiates from his brushstrokes, and we contemplate his works painted on ceramics with passion," said art critic Khoi.

"He told me that he wanted to pass on his technique of painting on ceramics to Vietnamese artists with similar interests. I hope that his desires come true. For me, his artworks radiate a bright mind like a jewel."