HSIAO CHIN (b. 1935)
HSIAO CHIN (b. 1935)


HSIAO CHIN (b. 1935)
signed in Chinese; signed and dated 'HSIAO 61' (lower middle); signed in Chinese; signed and dated 'HSIAO CHIN 1961' (on the stretcher bar)
oil on canvas
85 x 60 cm. (33 1/2 x 23 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1961
Private Collection, Italy (acquired directly from the artist in the 1960s)
Vittorio Fagone and Beatrice Peini Gysen-Hsieh (ed.), Mazzotta Publisher, Hsiao Chin. Opere 1958-2001, exh. cat., Milan, Italy, 2002 (illustrated in colour, p. 44).

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Lot Essay

'In my opinion, the most important aspect of painting is not the act of painting, but to search for and understand the meaning of life through painting, to record the life experience and my own reflection, and to inspire the prospect of one's life.' - Hsiao Chin

Hsiao Chin was born into a prestigious family in Shanghai in 1935. His father, Hsiao Yu-mei, was a center figure in the modern history of music in China. In 1955, Hsiao Chin founded the first Chinese abstract painting group, the Ton Fan Group (Eastern Art Group), in Taipei. In 1956, he received a scholarship from the Spanish government to further his studies in Europe. He had resided in Barcelona, Milan, New York, Paris, London, and Germany. Profound sadness caused by the loss of close family members throughout his childhood, adolescence and old age, stimulated Hsiao's curiosity to explore the unknown realms of Zen, Taoism and Western Mysticism. Art became a way of searching for the meaning of life. In 1961, immersing himself in Taoism, Hsiao abandoned oil paint and began painting in ink and gouache. He attempted to create a sense of emptiness and to capture the spiritual- spatial arrangement unique to Chinese art by contrasting fluid and fixed forms.

The paintings that Hsiao created in early 1960s include Untitled (Lot 288), La Curva (The Curve) (Lot 291), Untitled (Lot 290), Il Movimento - 2 (The Movement - 2) (Lot 287) and Risveglio (Awakening) (Lot 289). Hsiao uses a limited range of colours and basic geometric forms to represent the infiniteness of the universe. The minimalistic style skilfully combined with the sharp contrast between colours and shapes, elevates the conflict expressed in the works. The simple, compact and asymmetric composition of the works renders a kind of beauty that is fully refined and sublime. Such simple and modest representation of beauty of the universe is rooted from the philosophical thoughts of Zen in the East , whereby every phenomenon perceived by the mind can be transformed from the complicated to the simple. In the Edo Period, Zeng-ga painter Gibon Sengai expressed this idea of the Zen world by using minimalist configurations in Circle, Triangle and Square (fig.1). Similarly, the Zen spirit of searching for the core resonates with Kazimir Malevich's Suprematism. Malevich reduces paintings to a 'Pure Language' in which he neither narrates nor critiques society. Neither does he pay homage to traditional types of painting such as landscape and still life, which convey the inner spirit. Through the changing combinations of colours, forms and lines, Hsiao's abstract cosmic paintings construct the different stages of his creative and spiritual mind while keeping in line with the core belief of Zen.

Cosmic Evolution Series created in the early 2000s externalize Hsiao Chin's inner perception of the vast universe. Evoluzione Cosmica-8 (Lot 292) presents seemingly simple patterns of concentric circles, harmonious symmetric compositions and layers of colour from similar palette. Hsiao Chin plays with the tangibility and intangibility by creating an infinite cosmic space in a limited canvas surface, thus exploring changes of the universe.

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