“Life is nothing but a spiritual journey within ourselves”
Recognized by many as one of the most important artists involved with the introduction of Western abstract art into Chinese art the Taiwanese artist Hsiao Chin is well traveled in both mind and body.
Growing up in an artistically orientated family, his father was a highly regarded musicologist, the anti-communist ethos of Taiwan’s martial law orientated community of the 1940’s and 50’s directed the young artists interest towards the Fauvists such as Matisse and Gauguin; avant-garde artists the authorities considered to be harmless.
Such was their influence Chin along with several contemporaries formed the first Chinese abstract painting association: the Ton-fan Group in 1955. A year later Chin found himself in Spain on a Spanish Government scholarship which was the start of a 22 year absence from his home country as he investigated the art of the West first hand. As Maurizio Vanni reports Chin as saying in his essay Hsiao Chin. In-finite journey 1955-2008, “Many Chinese and Japanese painters have come to the West to learn. I have come here to grow!”
Chin’s investigation took him not only to Madrid and Barcelona but also to Milan, Paris, London and eventually New York. About the latter he has said “America imposes rhythms and standards, rules and styles. The American dream is utopia. My American experience was extremely hard, but important and complementary to my subsequent growth. It isn’t easy to live in a country where everyone has to pretend to be happy, young and beautiful.”
Whilst on this physical journey Chin was also involved in a personal existential journey. As he has said “I wanted to purposely think back to Taoism, because the western world was too variegated. This is why I decided to make a personal journey capable of building up cultural and experience-related baggage of action and thought. I analyzed Taoism through numerous readings, to achieve a form of painting which was mine alone.”
Which from geometric abstractions that explore the relationship with calligraphy to his minimalist works of the 1970’s and beyond, Chin uses the colors and symbols of both Eastern and Western cultures in his attempts to visualize the beauty of the infinite in his work.
As he has said “Creativity in art corresponds to a means, a very useful experience for reawakening conscience and for achieving a dignified state of self-awareness. I use the medium of painting and sculpture the way others use philosophy, meditation, mysticism, religion, etc.”
His current exhibition Hsiao Chin - 60 Years of Abstraction, Harmony and Form is on show at Hong Kong’s de Sarthe Gallery until the 27th of June.