"To me, the most important thing for drawing is not to 'draw,' but through drawing to study the origin of life, to record and feel the experiences in life, and to look into the future of life."
Hsiao Chin had been learning fundamental drawing skills from Chu Teh-Chun before he followed Li Zhong Sheng, from whom he gained the knowledge of modern art. Hsiao subsequently freed himself from the academic realistic style, and with other students of Li, Hsiao Chin founded the "Oriental Painting Society" that initiated the modern art movement in post-war Taiwan. Having moved to Milan in 1959, he began exploring a new artistic style that became a prelude to the peak of his artistic career, which the three works in this auction are representative of.
Living alone in a foreign country inspired Hsiao to become more certain of his creative principle in achieving a unique expression that is infused with oriental philosophies. In the sixties, Hsiao gradually moved away from traditional Chinese visual language and the incantation-like, cursive text structure of his earlier works. Instead, he turned to Taoist and Zen philosophies to reflect the wonder of the universe, and attempted to experience his own existence on the canvas. On-92 (Lot 1419) is an early example from this period of exploration. Surrounded by deep orange tones, a sun-like circle warms up the whole composition with a shade of light pink and illuminates the ground with earth-yellow. Calligraphic strokes form a squarish-round shape that is reminiscent of a desert rock of grayish brown colour. With the pink and yellow dividing the composition, and the semi-circle and rugged rock occupying their respective spaces, the painting is harmonious and balanced in its color and composition.
From 1963 onwards, Hsiao was influenced by Tibetan Tantric and Indian religious paintings. In comparison with his earlier paintings, Hsiao now enhances the color intensity and geometrical composition in his works. Both Tsen (Lot 1420) and Variazione Del Tao (Lot 1421) are works of this period. A calm cosmic mysticism is conveyed through the constitution of religiously meditative patterns such as circles, squares, and rectangles. The white dots carry the eye across the symmetrical composition, and also bring out the contrasting dynamic and static qualities of the work, adding an element of tension. Tsen (Lot 1420) is perhaps an abstract world map. The unified orange circles represent agglomerated ethnic groups, which are living on yellow square lands floating on white waves of blue oceans. The dark background adds a sense of mystery and uncertainty to the painting, as well as a space for meditation. It can be interpreted as four squares, two of which are covered; or three squares, connected on the upper and lower half; or just simply two squares and two triangles. Painted in the same year, Variazione Del Tao (Lot 1421) has a bright red background, and its carefully arranged colour theme and composition add a strong element of design into the work. Central in the painting's theme, the circle symbolizes the eternal, intact and sacred galactic cosmic landscape. As for the use of the rectangular patterns along the two sides, Hsiao has mused in a poem, "sometimes they echo and complement; sometimes they confront and restraint; sometimes they expand and contract for each other".