Sotheby’s Presents Hsiao Chin’s Largest Solo Exhibition in Hong Kong

As a pioneering artist of Chinese contemporary art, Hsiao Chin has gained international recognition for his work which cleverly infusing Eastern philosophies of the universe with Western religion. Now we get a chance to appreciate some of his iconic canvas and the debut of his glass mosaics work in his largest solo exhibition in Hong Kong at Sotheby’s gallery.

I have experienced a lot of darkness in my life, but the Heavens have given me this darkness so that I may understand the light. There is no darkness in this world, there is only light; it’s up to us whether we see it.” - Hsiao Chin

Hsiao Chin

Hsiao Chin was born in 1935 in Shanghai. His father, Hsiao Yu-mei, was a pioneer in modern Chinese music education, while his uncle, Wang Hseuhting, was an important politician and academic. During the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Hsiao accompanied Wang to Taiwan. In 1951, Hsiao entered the Art Department at National Taipei Teachers College under the supervision of the renowned woodcut printmaker Chou Ying and studied sketching under Chu Teh-chu.

Hsiao received a scholarship from the Spanish government in 1955. However, disillusioned by the extreme conservatism of an academic institution in Madrid, Hsiao decided against moving there and instead moved to Barcelona and Paris, eventually settling in Milan in 1959.

Hsiao Chin - Infinite Universe at Sotheby’s Hong Kong

Against the backdrop of the Cold War, Hsiao bridged the divide between the Eastern and Western art worlds, and founded the Il Punto movement in 1961. Thirteen exhibitions featuring artists from around the world were held in different European cities throughout 1961 to 1966, stimulating an exchange between East and West.

Hsiao’s work from this period reflects the major cultural traits of East and West, in which he created a distinctive mode of philosophical abstract painting and shaped his first mature period. His work clearly expressed his interest in exploring the mysteries of the universe and living energy; while the circular and square symbols seem to echo “heaven is round and earth is square,” an Eastern concept of the universe that underpins many of his artworks.

Hsiao Chin - Infinite Universe at Sotheby’s Hong Kong

Hsiao Chin’s paintings from the Movimento Punto period are best represented by his Dancing Lights series, comprising only 19 works. In this series, Hsiao divided his canvases between top-heavy 80-20 proportions, a compositional device allowing viewers to connect with the visual experience of looking up at the sky. He adopted this style throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and it later became the basis for the widely acclaimed The Eternal Garden series.

La Danza Di Luce-5, 1963, acrylic on canvas, 140 x 110 cm

La luce della riflessione, 1964, ink and acrylic on canvas, 110 x 139 cm

Due Tondi, 1964, acrylic on canvas (diptych), 120 x 70cm

Hsiao Chin experienced a tragic twist in his life when his daughter Samantha unexpectedly passed away in 1990. Devasted, Hsiao later came to experience an epiphany about the meaning of life, and created his classic series: The Eternal Garden, The Great Threshold, Ascendance of Samantha, Samadhi, Embodiment of the Soul, and Light on the Other Shore. These works embody Hsiao’s realisations about life brought about by the immense pain of his loss – that life and death are just different forms of existence. He melded a rational understanding of Zen and Daoist philosophy, which he had cultivated since the 1960s, into the softest emotions in his life; and his abstract painting continued to develop around the themes of Zen and Qi.

Beyond the Eternal Garden-5, 1993, acrylic on canvas, 110 x 250cm

For the first time, a complete series of 12 glass mosaic works by Hsiao Chin are displayed in this selling exhibition. Since 2005, Hsiao has been using his paintings as blueprints for the mosaic works, producing only 20 works over a period of 15-years. Glass mosaic has long been integral to European religious art; through this series, not only has Hsiao cleverly fused Eastern philosophies of the universe with Western religion and theology, he has also elevated his abstract paintings from the two-dimensional to the three-dimensional, breaking free from the limitations of a canvas. The featured mosaic works show rich, riotous colours in simple compositions; where the mosaic inlays replace the colours and brushstrokes of the painting, the tone shifts from light-hearted to forceful, making viewers feel as if they are standing in a medieval church, reflecting on the epic power of nature

Enormous Cosmic Whirlpool, 1983-2014, mosaic glass, 227.5 x 238cm

The Grand Cloud, 1986-2018, mosaic glass, 85 x 118cm

Cosmic Vortex, 2005-2018, mosaic glass, 75 x 130 cm

Hsiao Chin - Infinite Universe

Dates: 10 September - 9 October 2019
Mondays to Fridays|10am - 6pm
Saturdays|11am - 5pm
Sundays & public holidays (open as usual on 6 October and 7 October)
Sotheby’s Hong Kong S|2 Gallery, 5/F, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong
Enquiries: (852) 2822 5566