Born in Savannakhet, Laos in 1961, Vong Phaophanit was educated in Paris where as a teenager, following the political events in Laos, he became a refugee under the Geneva Convention. He went on to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Aix en Provence, France and met and married Claire Oboussier while they were both still students. Phaophanit moved to the UK in 1985 and became a British citizen in 1993. There he embarked on his career as an artist and began to experiment with a wide range of media subsequently exhibiting widely nationally and internationally.
Phaophanit became known for his large-scale installations which incorporate a wide range of materials including ash, silk, rice, rubber, wax and often light. In 1993 he was nominated for the Turner Prize and in 1994 was awarded the DAAD fellowship in Berlin. In 1998 he was nominated for the Paul Hamlyn Prize and in 2002 was the award winner of the Art and Work Award for site-specific work with Gensler Architects. Phaophanit’s work is held in major collections around the world including the Tate Gallery, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Singapore Art Museum, The Henry Moore Foundation, The British Council Collection and The Arts Council Collection. He has been a visiting lecturer at Chelsea College of Art, Wimbledon School of Art, Camberwell College of Art, The University of East London and Exeter College of Art and was also senior fellow in drawing at Wimbledon School of Art.
Throughout his early career Phaophanit maintained a close creative dialogue with Oboussier and they frequently collaborated on projects together. From the late 1990s the duo began the process of formally unifying their practices and went on to create their current shared studio.