ARTpiece | Hsiao Chin's mosaics

August 7, 2020
ARTpiece | Hsiao Chin's mosaics

Highlights include the article Diary of an art globetrotter published in this week's Financial Times, written by Philip Dodd - curator of Hsiao Chin's aforementioned retrospective. The article describes Dodd's extraordinary experience of curating Hsiao's significant exhibition remotely, due to the global pandemic. Simultaneously, Wallpaper* has released a short film dedicated to this retrospective, which explores how the ideas and practices of Mark Rothko and Hsiao Chin, the two abstract masters from the East and the West, converged throughout the 1960s. View it here on their Instagram account. Stay tuned for an insightful interview with the artist himself, due to be published shortly on Artsy.


To further celebrate Hsiao Chin, this week's ARTpiece is dedicated to Hsiao's mosaic work, Blue Introspection (2007-2018). We hope we inspire you to add this outstanding mosaic to your collection.


Artist's Collection

In My Beginning Is My End: The Art Of Hsiao Chin, Mark Rothko Art Centre, 2020
Hsiao Chin: Infinite Universe, Sotheby's S|2 Gallery in Hong Kong, 2019


In My Beginning Is My End: The Art Of Hsiao Chin, Mark Rothko Art Centre, 2020


Hsiao's mosaics were created in Milan, Italy, and were primarily modelled on paintings he made from the 1980s onward. Blue Introspection (2007-2018), has rich colours and an innocent, naïve composition. When 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, merging Asian aesthetics with European religious design. Through these works, viewers can reflect on the epic power of nature.

In Blue Introspection (2007-2018), Hsiao left very few voids, and these highly saturated, monochrome, and colour-driven images take better advantage of the brightness and texture of the glass mosaics. The relief-like effects give the colour gradations and additional richness. The mosaics are resplendent yet contemplative, glittering like gems; they refine and elevate the spiritual qualities that the artist has infused into the works.


Hsiao Chin, Blue Introspection, 2007 - 2018

Mosaic glass, 90 by 120 cm, Detail


Hsiao Chin, Blue Introspection, 2007 - 2018

Mosaic glass, 90 by 120 cm, Detail


Creating mosaics is complex and time-consuming, making them very rare; but Hsiao Chin really enjoys making them. Since 2005, Hsiao Chin has made only twenty glass mosaics. His paintings serve as the blueprints for his mosaic works, so every mosaic has two dates. The earlier date is for the painting, while the later date is for the mosaic. In this special creative process, Hsiao engages in a dialogue with himself; spanning space and time, he connects to a past creative state and elevates his past work with his present self. Studio Reduzzi provides specialised technical support, but Reduzzi himself, as an appreciator of Hsiao Chin's art, often makes suggestions and points out which paintings would be best suited to mosaic. Hsiao has mastered all parts of mosaic creation; he rigorously chooses colours and forms in the most appropriate materials to achieve the ideal effect.





Through glass mosaics, Hsiao's abstract paintings move from the two-dimensional to the three-dimensional. In addition to highlighting the limitations of two-dimensional painting, he elevates glass mosaics from a traditional technique to a purer mode of artistic creation.

Glass mosaics, as a classic European artistic material, can be traced back to Mesopotamia in the third millennium BCE. The medium persisted in ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and the Byzantine Empire, until it became popular in the Republic of Venice and the Kingdom of Sicily in the twelfth century; in this way, mosaic became a part of the Italian artistic tradition. For a long time, mosaics have been an integral part of European religious art, and their pure, lustrous qualities are excellent vehicles for the transcendent character of Hsiao Chin's painting; forming a perfect combination of physical material and metaphysical spirit. He cleverly connects and fuses Eastern philosophies of the universe with Western religion and theology through his mosaic works.


Hsiao uses dark glass to create his signature in mosaic


Hsiao Chin, Blue Introspection, 2007 - 2018, Mosaic glass,
90 by 120 cm, Detail shown


Enormous Cosmic Whirlpool, at 227.5 x 238 cm, is one of Hsiao Chin's largest single mosaics. The blueprint for this piece was Enormous Cosmic Whirlpool, painted in ink and colour on canvas in 1983. Hsiao was proud of this large painting from the 1980s, so after the work was accidentally damaged, he recreated it in a similarly sized glass mosaic in 2014, giving the piece new life. Enormous Cosmic Whirlpool is very large, and the colour shifts are gradual yet rich. It seems to contain almost every colour; from a technical perspective, this is extremely difficult, and the final effect is very successful. Grand imagery, resplendent colours, and rich textures contribute to this intense artistic effect, gently drawing viewers into an inspiring magical scene that stands apart from time, space, and reality. The work could be considered a notable peak in Hsiao Chin's courage and creativity.


Hsiao Chin, Enormous Cosmic Whirlpool, 1983-2014
Mosaic glass, 227.5 x 238 cm


Hsiao Chin's glass mosaic works were first formally presented in 2015 at the "Eighty Years of Energy: Hsiao Chin's Retrospect and Prospect" at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung. In 2018, the mosaics were also shown at the "Hsiao Chin: Coming Home" in the China Art Museum in Shanghai. In 2019, Sotheby's S|2 Gallery in Hong Kong, in collaboration with Hsiao Chin Foundation and in support of 3812 Gallery, presented Hsiao Chin: Infinite Universe, Hsiao Chin's largest selling exhibition in Hong Kong, in which a complete set of the artist's glass mosaic works were debuted.


Further Reading


Hsiao Chin and Punto:
Mapping Post-War Avant-Garde
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