1935 Hsiao Chin was born in Shanghai on January 30th. His
father : Hsiao Yu-mei or Hsiao Xue-peng as
he was also known, was
famous in Shanghai for founding the first conservatory of music in the city in 1927. He and his sister Xue-zhenen, born
in 1937, were
brought up by their mother Qi Cuei-zhen, known as Wen-lan, as protestants.
father died of tuberculosis.
mother died of cancer.
lived with an aunt for several years, the children were separated :
Chin went to live with his uncle Wang Shih-chieh in Taiwan, whereas his sister, a gifted painist, went to live
a couple who were artists.
1950 While he
was attending Taipei Middle School, Hsiao Chin, also
enrolled at the Scool of Art, where he studied drawing under the
tuition of Chu Teh-Chun, and he joined the studio of Li Chun-Shan whose work had been very much inflenced by the west, and was considered to be quite
unconventonal. Li Chun-Shan felt
that there was a " wild " side to him, and worked with him on
composition and colours. A number
of self portraits painted in oil, and several very colourful works
date from this period, showing clearly the influence of Cézanne,
Gauguin and Matisse.
qualified as a teacher, and began to teach in the Ching-Mei
His sister was admitted to a psychiatric hospital
that same year, suffering from schizophrenia.
martial law had been imposed, Hsaio Chin and seven other Chineseartists took the risk of founding Ton-Fan, in pinyin dongfang huahui 东方画会 Orient Movement, the first movement in
Chinese art, rather abstact art. Fortunately the regime was
unfamiliar with avant-garde art, and the group was able to work. The
following year, they organised their first exhibition at the Taipei
News Building, Chughua Road. People rushed to get tickets for the
exhibition, however some visitors were so shocked by what they saw
there, that they threw their invitations on the ground, to show their
disapproval. The artists, who had struggled to find the money to have
their work printed, were somewhat upset. Nevertheless,
the group carried on working for the next fifteen years, with regular
exhibitions in Taipei, as well as in Italy, Spain, Germany and the
1956 - 1957 In
order to continue painting, he managed to get a grant from the Spanish
government which enabled him to go to Spain, in spite of some
opposition. He felt that the Conservatory of Fine Art in San Fernando
was too conservative, so he opted for Barcelona where he mixed with
artists involved in work more representative of Spanish abstract art
: Antoni Tapies and the founder members of the El
large impasto works in oil, Hsiao Chin created shapes, like
ideograms, which stood out against backgrounds in dull colours.
In order to survive, he wrote articles on avant-garde art in Europe in the
1950s, for publications in Taïwan such as the United Daily News,
the Taipei literary review Wen-Shin, or the Cosmorama
Pictorial in Hong Kong, all the while, trying to find his own
style. He took part in the May Salon in Barcelona, and
obtained a contract with the Sala Gaspar gallery.
1958 - 1966 Leaving
behind Spain and its anti-social climate, he decided to travel, even
if this meant him losing the grant he had had such trouble obtaining.
He went to Italy, first of all to Venice for the Biennial, where
paintings by Mark Tobey and Mark Rothko made a big impression on him.
He met Yves Klein, Paul Klee and Gabriele Mazzotta, who became one of
his best friends, and one of the most important collectors of his
work. After that, he went to Florence where his work was displayed at
the Galleria Numero, the second gallery of Fiammo Vigo.
moved to Milan. There he quickly got involved with a group of
avant-garde artists. One of the first people he contacted was the
Argentinian Lucio Fontana, because they could communicate in Spanish.
He later met Roberto Crippa, Enrico Castellani and Pierre Manzoni. He
liked to tell the story of when they all went out one day to
on their lambretta, to work on ceramics. Their vehicle
broke down on the edge of the town and they had to abandon it !He joined forces with a
gallery owner called Giorgio Marconi, regularly displaying his work in
founded the Punto movement, with Antonio Calderara ( he began with
figurative paintings then his work became more abstract after the
death of his daughter ) and the Japanese sculptor Kengiro Azuma. Other
artists from the Ton-Fan group joined later, such as Li Yuan-Chia,
and then artists from all over the world: German, Spanish, Dutch,
Italian and Japanese, resulting in exhibitions in Barcelona, Italy,
Rotterdam, Taipei, and Zurich.
Art was seen as a way to
transcend human limitions in relation to infinity.
used Chinese calligraphy, and surfaces that were predominantly white.
c'è affinità, non c'è più distanza 1961,
to stay in one place for very long, he spent several months in Paris,
where he put together an important exhibition at the Galerie
Internationale d'art contemporain, 253 rue Saint-Honoré, which was
run by Comte Maurice D'Arquain. He then went on to Bâle, to see Mark
Tobey, who had been living in Switzerland for two years.
decided to go to London, where he stayed for six months. At the
Signal Gallery he met Paul Keeler.
This period marked a
change in the both the life and work of the artist. he was on a more
spiritual journey, delving into religion and Taoist philosophy. Yin
and Yang figure in his geometric works.
1965 Ink and acrylic on canvas, yin
1967 acrylic on canvas.
1967 - 1973 He
went to New York with Giuseppa Pia Pizzo, the Italian artist whom he married in 1962.
Their daughter was born in New York.
During this period, he
taught painting and drawing at Southampton College of Long Island
University, New York, then at the Bâton-Rouge University in
He was delighted to be
able to mix with artists such as Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichenstein,
Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, all of whom influenced his work.
( 27 acrylic canvas )
from this period.
The artist uses geometric shapes, in brightly
coloured acrylics. The universe is represented by a circle which
in a different colours on different canvases. His series of
works entitled 'solare' shows how the importance in his mind, held by
the elements, such as the sky, the wind, the rain, and waterfalls. He
also worked on sculptures, made of plastic and steel.
After separating from his
wife, he decided to travel to Mexico, in order to study Aztec and
Maya art, which he felt were close to Chinese Culture.
Back to Europe
Feeling more and more
drawn to Buddhism, and having had enough of America which he found
too superficial, Hsiao Chin returned to Europe.
1974 Patrice Trigano and
Pierre Nahon organised an exhibition of his recent work in the
galerie beauborg rue pierre au lard, in the 4th district of
Back in Milan, he put his
research to one side, and took up his inks, and unstretched
canvasses, in an attempt to feel closer to nature.
1978 Along with nine other artists, of six different
nationalities, he started the SURYA, ( sun ) movement. Seven exhibitions were
then held, in Italy,Spain, Taiwan, and Switzerland. The CH'AN series
( CH'AN is Japanese for Zen ) dates from this time, and is
characterised by the contrasts between the surfaces and the warm and
Success was consolidated
as the exhibitions continued, in Ferrera, Modène and Milan,
and honours followed.
Invited by the governments, Hsiao Chin went to Taipei in 1978, then Beijing and Shanghai in 1980, where he led
conferences on Western contemporary art.
1980 He divorced.
1981 - 1988 While
teaching at the Art school in Urbino, then in Turin and Milan, he
continued to hold exhibitions of his own work, in Italy, Taipei , Rio
de Janeiro and Tokyo.
23 other artists, of eight different nationalities, he founded the
( meaning energy ) movement, drawing on his creative energy as
can be seen in the titles of works such as Ascension to infinity, Neptune.
1989 - 1990 The
Tiananmen Square Massacre left its mark on the artist. He did a
series of paintings on this theme spring
in Peking - before the Tiananmen Square massacre- the Tiananmen Square
massacre - a year after Tiananmen Square - the renaissance of China.
the death of his daughter Samantha, Hsiao Chin overcame his sadness
by creating the series the
threshold, Towards the eternal garden.
theme recurs in the
to the eternal garden.
1992 - 2005 A
number of retrospectives of his work took place in Taichung (1992 ),
Peking (1994 ), Taipei (1995 ), Darmstadt (1998 ), Milan ( 2002 ),
Shanghai ( 2004 ), Recanati ( 2005 ), Guangdong ( 2005 ), Zhonshan
( 2005 ).
next significant events in his private life were his marriage to the
Austrian soprano Monika Unterberger, and his decision to teach at
gallery, rue des Beaux-Arts 75006 Paris held a personal exhibition.
Taiwan he was awarded the
National fine Art Prize
by the National foundation for culture.
gave him a knighthood, making him a " cavaliere della Stella della Solidarietà italiana "
2006 - 2009 The
Beijing national Museum showed Glory
to the source, Hsiao Chin 1955-2005
Triennial Bovisa in Milan showed a hundred paintings, in oil and
acrylic, reflecting 53 years of the artist's work, entitled Hsiao
Chin Viaggio in-finito.1955-2008