Hsiao Chin, Movement of Light, 1963; Acrylic on canvas, 110x140cm

Hsiao Chin, Movement of Light, 1963; Acrylic on canvas, 110x140cm

de Sarthe Gallery presents a solo exhibition of Hsiao Chin, in celebration of the master’s 80th birthday this year. The exhibition will showcase 18 works created from the period of 1955 to 2004. Hsiao is widely recognised for founding the Chinese abstract art organisation, Ton-Fan Art Group. Alongside his contemporaries, Hsiao spearheaded the contemporary Taiwanese art movement, through a series of ground breaking annual exhibitions starting in 1957. This period is a benchmark for artistic development in greater China, where cultural production was limited in Mainland China, due to the tumultuous Chinese Civil War, followed by the Cultural Revolution.

HSIAO CHIN will run from 29 May to 27 June. Born in Shanghai in 1935, Hsiao Chin left for Taiwan in 1949 and in 1952, studied under Li Chun-Sen, an important figure in the development of contemporary Chinese painting. A radical of the period, Hsiao was part of the Ton Fan Art Group, commonly hailed “the Eight Bandits” or the “Eight Great Outlaws” due to their opposition to the government, that resisted all forms of the avant-garde., The collective of artists were inspired by contemporary Western art, which was extraordinary in context, as preceding generations, drew almost exclusively from 19th century European painting. The Ton Fan Art Group was influenced by the history of post-war Western abstraction. Greatly inspired by nature whilst striving for spontaneity in artistic gestures balancing fullness and emptiness, these artists would quickly assimilate and above all interpret it to freely express their own identity.

From an extract of the Ton Fan Group manifesto entitled “Our Declaration” the Ton Fan Group wrote: “Our country’s conception of traditional painting is fundamentally similar to that of the modern world, even if there are slight differences in forms of expression. If we could generalise the development of modern painting in our country, then the infinite artistic treasures of China would have a new place in today’s world trends and walk down a large, forever changing road…” With this declaration, the artists of the Ton Fan Group demonstrated that the notions of traditional Chinese art and those of modern art should not be set against each other. Their new conceptions drew on the history of traditional Chinese art to as a source for innovation.

By the mid-1950’s, Hsiao had developed his very first works of abstraction and was awarded the Spanish Government Scholarship to study in Spain in 1956. Showing his work in three consecutive editions of the Spanish International Jazz Salon, Hsiao established himself amongst the highest calibre of his contempraries.

In the late 1950s, Hsiao created Pintura-AO and Pintura Q, representing a transition from geometric abstraction and marking his particular reinterpretation of the early 20th century art movement. The aforementioned paintings are exemplars of this period, with a limited primary colour palette generously applied in broad expanses to the canvas. Concurrently, Hsiao’s reconditioning of motifs and calligraphic forms from his home culture is evident and translated as closed forms, composed on a flat pictorial space. In 1959, Hsiao immigrated to Milan and matured as an avant-garde artist under the mentorship of Mazzotta and G.Marconi.

By the mid-1960’s Hsiao Chin became increasingly interested in representing the infinite. He captured the cosmos in his minimalistic works, limited in their range of colours and utilising regular forms. This is represented by Movement of Life, where the composition is dissected into two planes, with a saccharine pink space hovering above the white. Visually mediating the two forms are speckled indigo contours and circular forms, rendering the sublime with nominal devices. Drawing on spiritual symbols shared by Eastern and Western civilisations, his works visualise ideologies and seek to refine representations of beauty with pure simplicity.

Starting in 1960’s, Hsiao founded several important modern art movements in Europe, including the Movimento Punto (1961), the Surya Movement (1977), and the Shaki movement (1989). Art continues to be a journey of inner quest for him. Upon losing his only daughter to an accident in 1990, Hsiao had an epiphany, reconciling, accepting and perceiving the Taoist philosophies of “rebirth.” In his words, “life leaves us in one form, but returns in another, because life is a cycle that never dies.” Flying Beyond the Flower Garden, Energy of Life, and Concerto are Hsiao’s odes to life as he conquers the ultimate fear of death, with the gentle imprints of these pieces continuing to characterise his works which were produced after this period.

The exhibition, HSIAO CHIN at de Sarthe Gallery reveals how Hsiao, through his meditative artistic practice, reaches a higher plane of understanding of the mysterious nature of life, which he so passionately shares in his work.

About de Sarthe Gallery

de Sarthe Gallery was founded in 1977 in Paris, later establishing galleries in America and most recently Hong Kong and Beijing. It represents and exhibits a diverse spectrum of international artists, from important modern masters to a generation of emerging Chinese artists. de Sarthe Gallery artists include established icons; Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun, Pablo Picasso, de Kooning, Andy Warhol and Chen Zhen as well as contemporary figures Wang Guofeng, Lin Jingjing and Zhou Wendou amongst others. de Sarthe Gallery aims to provide the international audience with a strong series of curated group and solo shows, which is complimented by a rigorous publication programme.

About Hsiao Chin

Son of Xiao Youmei, founder of the Shanghai Music Academy, the first music academy in China, Hsiao Chin was born in 1935 in Shanghai. In 1949, he moved to Taiwan with his uncle. In 1952, Hsiao began his artistic studies under the tutelage of Li Chun-Sen, and started the first Chinese abstract art organisation, Ton-Fan Art Group, in 1955. In July 1956, Hsiao Chin received a scholarship from the Spanish government and participated in the Jazz Salon Exhibition in Barcelona in 1957, and was elected as one of the ten best emerging artists. In 1959, Hsiao first exhibited in galleria Numero in Italy and subsequently moved to Milan.

Starting in the1960’s, Hsiao founded several important modern art movements in Europe. In August 1961, Hsiao began Movimento Punto, an art movement that emphasised the universality of art, free from the limitations of space, time and trends. Art, in this sense, is an inwards quest of the artist, rather than an external pursuit. In 1977, Hsiao founded the Surya Movement (Sanskrit for Sun) with 8 other artists from six nationalities, advocating active exchange among different fields of artistic practices to achieve a form of international consensus. In 1989, Hsiao initiated the Shakti Movement, drawing inspirations from the wealth of energy within nature itself.

Aside from artistic creation, Hsiao also acted as a professor at institutes such as Long Island University, Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Louisiana State University and the Academy of Fine Arts, Urbino. In 1990, Hsiao’s daughter Samantha passed away, prompting him to create the subsequent series Passage Through the Great Threshold, elaborating on his newly found understanding of life.

Hsiao Chin’s abstract art works are highly commended internationally. He has had retrospectives at National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (1992), Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Hangzhou China Academy of Arts (1994) (also his first time exhibiting in China), Taipei Fine Arts Museum (1995), Shanghai Art Museum (2004), National Art Museum of China (2006), and the Milan Triennale (2009).

Hsiao’s achievements were highly recognised by the Italian institutions, and was included as the only Asian artist in the 1997 major retrospective of modern masters by the Milan government. Hsiao has had solo exhibitions across, Europe, North America and Greater China. Select institutional solo exhibitions include: National Museum of History and LungMen Art Gallery, Taipei (1978); Taipei Fine Arts Museum (1985); Faenza, Galleria Comunale Molinella (1994); Florence, Galleria Il Ponte (1998) and Museo Civico,Villa Colloredo Mels (2005). Hsiao’s works are in the permanent collections of: Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum & The Public Library, New York; Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Staatsgalerie – Stuttgart, Germany; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; Museo de Arte Moderno, Barcelona, Spain; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei; National Museum of History, Taipei and the Shanghai Museum of Art, Shanghai.

About the exhibition

Duration: 29 May – 27 June 2015

Venue: de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong

Address: 8/F Club Lusitano building, 16 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Reception: 29th May 2015, 5:30pm – 6:00pm

8/F, Club Lusitano Building, 16 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong

The artist Hsiao Chin will lead a tour of the exhibition


29th May 2015

6:00pm – 8:00pm

8/F, Club Lusitano Building, 16 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong


Ada Lam, CdD.: +852 9219 0921, ada@cdd.com.hk

Mona Chu, CdD.: +852 9276 5601, mona@cdd.com.hk

Courtesy of the artist and de Sarthe Gallery, for further information please visit https://desarthe.com.

Related posts: