IN MY BEGINNING IS MY END: THE ART OF HSIAO CHIN
This retrospective of Hsiao Chin at the Mark Rothko Art Centre is a marvellous opportunity for Europe to experience an artist whose work is neither simply Chinese, nor simply European. It is both. Hsiao Chin was born in Shanghai in 1935 and his work is saturated with a profound understanding of Chinese culture; equally, his paintings are luminously intelligent about the history of art in Europe. In the 1950s he was one of the founders of the Ton-Fan Art Group, the first Chinese abstract art group; as well as a founder in the early 1960s of a European avant-garde movement, the Movimento Punto in Milan, Italy.
Hsiao Chin arrived in Spain in the late 1950s but found the art education there too ‘conservative’ and moved to Milan, at that moment a hub for artists from all around the world. Together with artists such as Lucio Fontana, he helped to shape European abstract painting. But it is also the case that his encounter with Milan and European culture prompted him to reflect on the Chinese traditions which had nurtured his early life.
‘After experiencing and researching contemporary Western ideas first hand [in Spain and Italy], I felt a cultural shock and became more aware of the richness and profundity of my country’s artistic culture and philosophical thinking’.
His paintings which are on view at the Centre fuse western and Asian elements of painting and culture, making dramas out of the encounter of Chinese brushstrokes with the colour palette of European painting, of the language of Buddhism and of western modernism.
In the late 1960s, Hsiao Chin went to the US and in 1968 met Mark Rothko. Hsiao Chin felt an affinity with Rothko, especially with his commitment to spirituality and his rejection of commerce and materialism.
This retrospective which contains works from 1959 to the present is an opportunity to experience the work of an artist who is a globalised artist avant la lettre; an artist who offers a path to the future.
His work can be found in many of the major museums of the world, from the National Art Museum of China, Beijing to the Metropolitan Museum in New York; from the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome to Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet, Paris.
Philip Dodd and Farida Zaletilo