Hsiao Chin’s
Contributions to
Post War Abstract Art

We have witnessed incredible strengths and growth in the global pursuit of International post war art in recent years. At 83 years of age, Hsiao Chin is a post war Chinese abstract artist of international accord, his contributions towards the development of post war Chinese abstract art occurred during an era where revolutionary changes were inevitable, partially due to the cultural and economic circumstances at the time. In retrospect, the majority of post war artists were born into a booming global economy after WWI and yet most of them have experienced the brutality of WWII in their youth, resulting in a relatively similar set of world views for this group of artists. Nonetheless, artists of this era were more receptive to changes and capable of finding a common ground despite cultural differences in comparison to previous eras, which provided the ideal breeding ground for profound exchanges between the east and west as countries in the East begun to gain prominence after WWII.

Hsiao Chin

It was under these circumstances that allowed Hsiao Chin to thrive as a revolutionary art advocate in reinventing and reinvigorating post war abstract art. In 1961, he co-founded the Punto International Art Movement with artists such as Italian painter Antonio Calderara in Milan, Li Yuanchia and Azuma Kenjiro, this movement was considered as the only international art movement at the time that was predominantly inspired by an Asian philosophical worldview and advocated the notion that art should be a means of meditation and introspective aim to articulate the human spirits. Punto is an Italian word for ‘point’, punto artists use the point as a totem to break through the stagnation of Western abstract art devoid of spiritual substances in the late 1950s and instilled in it a new fountain of ideas and theories rooted in the intellectual and practices of Buddhism, Chinese Taoism, and Indian Brahminism, Sramana and other worldly civilizations. In this regard, the Punto totem has expanded itself into a spiritual bridge that connected and facilitated profound cultural and artistic exchanges between the east and the west. There were in total thirteen exhibitions led by Hsiao Chin that engaged the representatives such as Lucio Fontana of Spatialism, the Azimuth group, the nuclear movement and Op Art artists of various nations between 1961 and 1966 throughout Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Taiwan.

'Dancing Light-17', Acrylic on canvas, 110 cm x 140 cm, 1963
'Implication', Acrylic on canvas, 130 cm x 200 cm, 1965

These remarkable accomplishments hint at the importance of Hsiao Chin’s artistic productions during this era, where the artist often depicted dramatic grandeur of expansive brushstrokes to convey the flows of energy in the universe as he looked into the origin of the universe in his metaphysical contemplation. Notably, he also adopted the post war invention of the more intense and luminescent acrylic pigment to express the spiritual energy of the universe. A remarkable work of Hsiao Chin attributed to the 60s, Dancing Light 17, a period of significance importance was sold for HKD 5.9 million (with buyer’s premium) in Sotheby’s HK 2017 autumn sale. Another work entitled Dancing Light 16, dated to 1963 was sold for HKD 2.5 million (with buyer’s premium) in Sotheby’s HK 2017 spring sale. In essence, these impressive sale results intrinsically portray the significance of this representational bodies of works dated to the period of the Punto International Art Movement. Nevertheless, there still remains a gulf between the valuation of Hsiao Chin’s works and his pivotal status in modern and post war art history.

In retrospect, Hsiao Chin’s had evidently taken on an Eastern cultural advocate role at the forefront of leading the development of 20th century International post war Chinese abstract art diligently over the past 6 decades and has lived and worked in Taiwan, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, and United State. He was among the first few pioneer artists of Chinese descendent to lead the international art movement with the premise of adopting abstract painting into Eastern philosophy, and that constitute the pillars that forged the golden age of post-war contemporary art. To pay tribute to the artist’s rigorous contributions in the modern art history, In March 2018, the China Art Museum in Shanghai organized a large-scale exhibition Coming Home: Hsiao Chin’s retrospective exhibition and announced the establishment of Hsiao Chin Art Research project. After a lifetime of perseverance in art, the artist was welcomed back to his birthplace with the highest honor. Notably, Wu Guanzhong is another artist with such an extensive research group formed in his honor by the same public institute. Internationally, there will be another remarkable Solo Exhibition of the artist held by a renowned museum in Paris in 2019. 

'Link', Acrylic on canvas, 110 cm x 90 cm, 1963

In essence, works dated to the 1960s are coveted by seasoned collectors and connoisseurs alike, each canvas is akin to a piece of the puzzle that that records the history of post war avant-garde art movement. Notably, Hsiao Chin’s iconic series of works in the 1960s appear to be sought-after, and in particular, those large-scale works measuring 110 x 140 cm or above, works dated to this period of impeccable provenance and in superb condition are increasingly rare on the market, its relative record-breaking prices on the secondary auction market seems to reinforce the artist’s significant achievements of the 1960s which continue to become more widely recognized globally.

'Nel profondo delle Tenebre', Acrylic on canvas, 135 cm x 165 cm, 1965
'Sun - 7', Acrylic on canvas, 100 cm x 130 cm, 1964