Leading to our upcoming exhibition, Hsiao Chin & Punto, that will open its doors at London gallery from 22nd of June and will include a dedicated display (Stand 617) at Masterpiece London Art Fair 2022 (30 June - 6 July), we would like to introduce the spirit of Punto in this ARTicle issue.
When Hsiao Chin settled in Milan in 1960, he witnessed the formidable strength of Western culture, and believed he needed to deepen his understanding of Eastern culture and philosophy while in the West if he was to make his mark there.
Movimento Punto, that Hsiao co-founded with Antonio Calderara and Azuma Kenjiro in Milan, in 1961, advocated the Eastern thinking of “calm observation or calm contemplation” as its manifesto. Between 1962-1966, Hsiao organised 13 Punto exhibitions across Europe, and the founding of Movimento Punto marked the first international avant-garde art movement founded by a Chinese artist in 20th century art history.
The literal meaning of Punto in Italian is “Point”. From an Eastern philosophical perspective, it is the basic element and the beginning and end of all things in the universe and it became a significant symbol in Hsiao Chin’s paintings throughout the next decade and beyond.
In the composition of paintings such as La Forza (1962) and Il Silenzio (1962), Hsiao used a square or circle of colour to invoke the ancient Chinese idea of the ‘square earth and domed heavens’. An exemplar of Hsiao Chin's Punto period, Il Silenzio symbolises a self-contemplative state of being with the land and the sky, evoking a sense of unity between sky and earth, as well as the individual self and the universal self. As Hsiao Chin stated, it is through silent contemplation and meditation that the individual can access the infinite wisdom and energy of the universe.
Il silenzio, 1962, Ink on canvas, 80 x 70cm
While Il Silenzio (1962) aims to achieve a balance between the sky and the earth and articulate the ‘spirit of calm contemplation’ through its composition, La Forza (1962) embodies the force and movement of energy of life, Chi (Qi), encompassed within the universe and among the existence of all tangible and intangible things. Hsiao Chin embraces the mobility that lies within “Chi” and meditates upon the metaphysical phenomenology among the existence of all things; together the lines and symbols, allude to the two polarities and the infinite directions, the endless flow of energy and eternal light, that suggests the Taoist ‘circle of life”.
The Beginning of Tao-2 (L'Inizio Del Tao-2), 1962, Acrylic and ink on canvas, 70 x 50cm
Hsiao Chin’s Tao and Chi series began in 1961. In this exhibition, The Beginning of Tao and Awakening, created in 1962, are two iconic works, representing the spirit of Punto, that often highlighted the contrasting yet harmonious balance between dichotomous elements, such as the Yin and Yang, brightness and darkness, strength and weakness, which gave him endless energy to get through every hurdle he encountered in life. Through unforced exercise of brushstrokes, Hsiao attempted to see the true meaning of “absence of self” and create a spiritual space which communicates the movement and changes of the unnameable energies in the universe.
The Awakening, 1962, Acrylic on canvas, 50 x 60cm