Nguyen Than is considered as one of the leading contemporary painters in Vietnam. The artist and his family migrated to the South in 1954 along with many other persecuted Catholics. After reunification in 1975, he was banned from painting for 12 years, in worked as a cyclo driver during this time. After the Doi Moi reforms, Than came back to painting. Very few artists in Vietnam express with such force, combined a melancholic beauty and poetry that oscillates between a sad past and optimistic future. As an accomplished sculptor, he has also garnered numerous awards in that medium.
Thanh has exhibited extensively in Vietnam and abrod, including in Hong Kong, Singapore, Miami, London, Tokyo, Bangkok, San Francisco, Paris, Brussels and Switzerland (Mekong 1995 and Mekong 1996).