Chao Chun-hsiang extracts diverse elements from schools of Western and Chinese art and blends it into his own unique style and artistic language. As Chao studied at the Hangzhou National college of Art during the time when the school underwent leadership of Lin Fengmian, he followed the vision of "synthesizing the East and West" by incorporating the education of both Eastern and Western art, learning Western painting as well as Chinese ink-wash painting during his study.
Under the wing of Lin Feng-mian and Pan Tian-shou, Chou established a foundation for his synthesized characteristics; an aesthetic that soon enriched deeper in the late 1950s after his travels to Spain and France. Chao later resided in America where he experienced the wave of Abstract Expressionism and visually referenced Jackson Pollock's'drip' technique by incorporating it with traditions of Chinese ink-wash paintings, and thus developed a harmonizing configuration that embraces both aesthetics, an artistic direction that Chao continuously and feverishly explored till the latter. This season, Christie's is fortunate to present this outstanding epitome Untitled (Lot 1100).
Untitled depicts the mountain and streams with a composition that reiterate traditional landscape paintings of Guo Xi and Fan Kuan, unveiling the loftiness of mountains, as well as the spatial gradations and sense of depth in the painting; a unique perspective for Chao who typically emphasizes for flatness in his works. Whilst the theme of Untitled took inspirations and eastern sophistication from traditional landscape paintings, in terms of medium, he incorporated Chinese materials such as ink on paper and the western medium of acrylic paint to display great flexibility and diversity. Ink-wash dominates the painting and the lines are bold and strong, accompanied with timely turns and pauses, creating various gradations in the ink, giving the mountains a lofty and towering sense. A signature style of Chao, his play of brushwork is adopted from the free ink-splashing and spontaneous brushstrokes, which his audacious and unrestrained brushwork represents his full understanding and mastering of ink-wash xieyi paintings, a style that emphasizes on few bold and rhythmic strokes instead of careful lineation; one may even find Zhang Xu's rhythmic cursive script in Chao's painting as a form of self-expression in refined presentations. Constantly stressing that "one cannot paint too quickly. Painting quickly is just playing with the hand or brushstrokes, not expressing oneself." "The profoundness in painting does not come from mere courage, it comes from many elements and the most important one is deep thinking, can help one to achieve artistic depth and technical skill, it takes so much more than that and meditations is one of the most important part." , Chao's skillful treatment of his seemingly wild brushwork surpass the boundaries of the paper, which in return his spontaneous brushstrokes and vigorous lines reveal the free and dynamic mind of the artist.
Besides ink and water, the artist also applied acrylic onto the painting. Various techniques of line-dripping, splashing, pouring and sprinkling, were used to depict the woods, streams, temple and houses. The artist enhanced his landscape by utilizing acrylic to illustrate the seasonal changes with a sense of force and vitality, further encrusted by the bright palette of acrylics complemented with the tonal gradations of ink which simultaneously emphasizing its black and delicate washes; the visual effects of intertwinement, juxtaposition, contrast and contradiction, supplements the touch of brilliance on to the clean and refined landscape paintings, enhancing its expression of colours and the abstract elements, synthesizing the Chinese ink-wash landscape with the Western abstract art.
The curator of Zimmerli Art Museum in America summarized by saying "[Chao"s] work make people notice how minor the difference are between eastern art and western abstract art." Although Chao Chun-hsiang's works are painted in eastern subject matter with streams and fountains; it is also modern and abstract, stressing the expressiveness of colours. Zhao's fluid use of colour also reveals his characteristics and personal feelings, thus making the painting a hybrid of figurative and abstract, representation and expression. As well as inheriting the tradition of Chinese landscape paintings, Chao's work also adopt abstract expressionism and becomes the perfect example of the integration of the eastern and western aesthetics in the development of contemporary Chinese art.