Deep Meditation
signed 'Hsiao'; titled 'Deep meditation'; signed and titled in Chinese; dated '1975' and inscribed '88 x 88 cm' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
88 x 88 cm. (34 5/8 x 34 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1975
Dimensions Art Center, Taipei, Taiwan
Private Collection, Asia
Dimension Art Centre, Hsiao Chin, Taipei, Taiwan, 1996 (illustrated, plate 93, p. 161)

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Lot Essay

Hsiao Chin founded the "Ton Fan Group", the first abstract artists' circle in China, with a group of friends in 1955. He later sojourned in Spain and Italy, introduced European avant-garde artworks and movements to the Eastern art world, and was involved in exhibitions hosted by art agencies around the world. In 1997, the Milan government hosted a "Roaring 60s" retrospective exhibition, in which Hsiao Chin was the only Asian artist chosen for exhibition. He was conferred by the Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi the honourable title of "Knight of Italian Solidarity Star" in 2005. His works have been collected by Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, and other such international museums. This season's auction will present seven of his works, a thorough line of his creative highlights from the 1950s to the 1990s that showcases his artistic journey.

A key element in Hsiao Chin's art from the very beginning has always been exploring the world and spirituality, and contemplating the nature and relationships between the universe and matter, infinity and constraints, rationality and spirit. Hsiao Chin's works invite the viewer to mindfully examine oneself and how one might use art to deconstruct these concepts, combining elements of Western philosophy and Eastern metaphysical thoughts. Hsiao Chin says, "Lao Tzu's school of Zen thought suits my personally well, and has been the starting point I have always strived for (…) to create through Eastern thoughts and intuitions". As in Chuang Tzu's The Great and Original Teacher: "They wander beyond the mundane world and stroll in the world of non-action."

The concept of "wandering and non-action" has appeared in Hsiao Chin's works since the 1960s in various artistic methods and scales that examine this particular worldview. Untitled (Lot 441) was painted in 1962, and was the prized result of Hsiao Chin's early experiment with Taoist theories. This series combines within it the beautiful balance found in the structure of Chinese characters, with the basic circle, square, and crooked lines that make up the components of a character, and through this innovative artistic form it deconstructs and subverts the source of abstraction in Chinese culture. Hsiao Chin journeyed through the US starting from the mid-1960s. Influenced by Hard Edge art, his own creations took a turn for simplicity. Deep Meditation (Lot 442) is a signature piece from that period, with a rigorous structure and clean polished lines. The artist strove to create a realm of "Entering Samadhi" through borders, and painted large swaths of colours that balance the canvas's "vacantness" and energy. Hsiao Chin's artistic creations came to a temporal end in 1990 due to the pain of his daughter's death. He found epiphanies during the long process of grief and mourning, and thus created a series of works in memory of his daughter, one of which is The Eternal Garden—51 (Lot 444). Hsiao Chin's artworks harbour countless reflections on knowledge and intuition over the decades – as "a window into the mysteries of the universe".

The sophistication of his conceptional thought and self-reflection appears in more than the thematic concept of his works, but also in the way he utilises colour and media. Influenced by Art Informel in his early career, Hsiao Chin experimented with the impromptu nature of art with heavyweight oil paint, Paisaje Interior 46 (Lot 438) being a signature piece from that era. From 1961 onwards, acrylics became his medium of choice as opposed to oil paint and ink, for acrylics combined the possibilities which oil paint and watercolour had to offer, and allowed for rich layering as well as being flexible in its translucency. The crispness of the acrylics in Untitled (Lot 439) complements the white space beyond to create a sense of airy elegance. L'equilibrio (The Balance) (Lot 443) is his testament to the minimal stylistics of the 1970s. He breaks through the boundaries of the canvas, experimenting with a cross-shaped canvas and using thicker, more solid colours to create his own unique colour combinations. Towards the 1980s, Vortice Cosmico – 16 (Lot 440) displayed his expert command of colours, with acrylics that convey fascinating dye effect of Eastern ink paintings. The vortex of colours gives an impression of spirals that pull the viewer into meditation.

As an important pioneer of Asian abstract art, Hsiao Chin made significant contributions to both Asian and European artistic movements through his clear-eyed insights towards spirituality, artifice, and art. His creations are among the best of his contemporaries and stand the test of time, and even today, are still revolutionary in the innovation of colour, structure, and concept.

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