From 9-15 June the work of artist and art critic Chiang Hsun comes to mainland China for the first time in a special exhibition, Great Beauty on Earth — Chiang Hsun’s Art and Life, at Christie’s in Shanghai. Organised by Christie’s and presented in association with the Michael Ku Gallery and supported by QINGTING.FM, the show features his recent artworks, manuscripts and recordings, and will be supplemented by a lecture series.
Born in Xi’an, China, in 1947 and raised in Taiwan, Chiang studied history and art in China, continuing his studies in Paris in 1972. Returning to Taiwan, he founded the Department of Fine Arts at Tunghai University, becoming its first dean in 1985.
Across his career, Chiang has been an active advocate for cultural and aesthetic education in the Chinese-speaking world. In addition to novels and essay collections, he has written extensively on art history and aesthetic theory. In recent years, Chiang has begun to use audiobooks as a medium through which to share his interpretations of Chinese poetry and literary classics.
As an artist, he draws from daily life and his surroundings in Taiwan, from Taroko Gorge, near Taiwan's east coast, to scenes of Tamsui, in the north. In 2014 he was invited to be an artist-in-residence in Chishang township, in the Eastern Rift Valley. Chishang is famous for the cultivation of rice, and the town’s paddy fields, distant hills and flowing clouds became sources of inspiration for new paintings and poems.
‘Chiang Hsun’s paintings do not follow any trend and do not cater to collectors’ tastes. For him, painting is simply a private pursuit,’ explains Lin Hwai-min, founder and artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan. ‘Traditionally, Chinese scholars express their temperaments and contemplations through brush and ink. Since his days as a young student, Chiang Hsun has extended that tradition by creating fascinating and intriguing works that are uniquely his own.’
Against the backdrop of globalisation, many of Chiang’s works focus on reviving Eastern aesthetics for the modern age. As he writes in his preface to Western Poetry and Painting, ‘Literati art cannot be understood via a Western-style treatise. We, the East, have lost the right to dictate our own narrative for over a century. In the 21st century, we look forward to the revival of Eastern art — yet, do we know it anymore?’
‘Chiang has long been devoted to the dissemination of both Eastern and Western art, which echoes Christie’s mission in China,’ says Rebecca Wei, President of Christie’s Asia. ‘We are thrilled to be presenting this enlightening exhibition, and look forward to giving audiences the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding about Chiang Hsun and his art at our space in Shanghai.’