Story: Tam Tam , Jade Ngoc
Photos: Artists

With a timeless and ethereal quality, silk remains a muse for a new generation of artists in Vietnam.

Chloris Reincarnation 2

Subtle and delicate silk painting has been a traditional art form in East Asia for millennia. Along the way, Western countries adopted silk in fashion and design and the material has continued to evolve as a mainstay in contemporary art, bridging influences from both worlds.

American artist Andy Warhol, for example, introduced silk printing into Pop art. Prodigious Chinese artist Zhang Daqian, meanwhile, employed Western Impressionism in silk paintings, heightening the mystique of the material and pushing the limits of painting techniques.

And in Vietnam, a new wave of artists and designers are combining traditional methods with contemporary sensibilities to reach new heights of visual complexity on silk.


Photographer Pham Tuan Ngoc has recently become a household name among art aficionados thanks to his radical employment of lumen and cyanotype printing (solar photograms on silk and multiple materials), a first in Vietnam.

Artwork by photographer Pham Tuan Ngoc

His Ngu Hanh (Five Elements) project highlights quintessential figures from Vietnamese folklore such as Ly Dynasty dragons, fairies, the Nghe (a half-lion, half-dog mythical creature) and the phoenix, which are arranged playfully in a Dadaist fashion. The project combines both Eastern and Western elements to create new artistic expressions for these folkloric figures, who appear even more vibrant thanks to the flexibility and luster of silk.

Designer Thien Huong has researched and created intricate, original and high-quality double-sided silk scarves by combining hand drawing and digital printing techniques.

The challenges in creating wearable pieces are not only aesthetic – the designer must also understand the nuances of the material to ensure the best printing outcome. The same design will appear differently when printed on 9 momme (a unit of weight measurement for silk) satin silk compared to 18 momme twill silk. The differences will be even more drastic when printed on linen, cotton or stretchy sportswear fabrics. Starting with one-sided prints, Huong has expanded into scarves with different colors and patterns on each side – a process that elevates the art of silk scarf printing to a whole new level.

Silk scarves by designer Thien Huong

In the Vietnamese fashion scene, designer Khim Dang frequently synthesizes fine arts with silk, resulting in cool and sophisticated creations. Khim’s designs are maximalist, with intricate and colorful details that seem to be bursting at the seams with youthful energy. Inspired by both traditional Vietnamese culture and the fun, ironic and disruptive Gen Z approach, Khim aims at a more visually appealing approach for the masses. The result has made his products immensely popular with young, fashion- conscious consumers.

Silk remains an inexhaustible source of inspiration, allowing young artists to tell their own stories and represent their generations through distinctive and remarkable creations.