“Bright Light-Homage to Ascendence”, Acrylic on canvas, 140 cm x 90 cm, 1990
A series of visual art, performing art and music activities of Zen 。Art are held at Tsz Shan Monastery under the theme of “Receiving Zen with heart, connecting Zen with art and embracing Zen with music”. In this Bright Light – Homage to Ascendence art exhibition, significant artworks with Zen ideas are proudly exhibited to unveil the international Master artist’s achievement of infusing Zen philosophy into modern abstract art, as well as his profound introspection and contemplation on the ascendence of life.
Hsiao Chin is celebrated as the pioneer of modern Chinese abstract art and appreciated worldwide as one of the greatest post-war master artists. He was born in 1935 in Shanghai, In 1949, Hsiao Chin moved to Taiwan where he joined the art studio organised by former professor at the National School of Arts, Lee Chun Shan in 1951. With a group of artists who shared his aesthetic vision, in 1955 he co-founded the Ton Fan Art Group, the first post-war Chinese modern art group, which blended techniques from traditional Eastern art with Western modernism, while also promoting Chinese modern art overseas. In 1956, Hsiao embarked on a series of travels in America and Europe, moving first to Madrid and finally settling in Milan, where he has lived for over half a century. In 1961, Hsiao Chin co-founded the Punto International Art Movement, the first ever international avant-garde art movement initiated by an Asian artist with the aim of promoting Oriental philosophy of “calm observation”.
Hsiao Chin’s artistic creation has been inspired by the doctrines of Buddhism and Zen philosophies. Apart from transforming his contemplation of Zen into the signs and colors in the artwork, he also devoted to the study of Buddhist art, especially Tantric Buddhist art. The composition of the mandalas of Tibetan thangka paintings and their representation of the universe had a profound influence on his abstract creation. In 1990, Hsiao Chin lost his daughter Samantha in a tragic accident, which drove him to a deeper spiritual quest for self-healing and transcendence. Ascendence of Samantha is regarded as an important series during this turning point in the artist’s life. After profound introspection, he reflected that death is the beginning of another stage of life, which inspired his later creation of several iconic series of artworks: Beyond the Great Threshold, Eternal Garden, Samadhi and Vitality. The choice of bright colors in these series symbolises the transformation of the melancholy of life to love and blessings by broad-mindedness and wisdom, while the use of tangible lines signifies the intangible energy surrounding the world. The composition of the ‘sky against the land beneath it’ has also become the classic composition of his paintings since 1990.
In this exhibition, Hsiao Chin’s historical and representational Zen artworks have been selected particularly to introduce the revolutionary and avant-garde art scape of Buddhism, along with Buddhist wisdom and spirituality.