Gallery: Pékin Fine Arts
Artist(s): Phénix Varbanov
Opening / Event Date: 28 Jul, 2023
Closing / End Date: 30 Sep, 2023
Rediscovering Chao Chung-Hsiang
March 16 – June 11, 2022
Central Gallery Day
20 May, Friday, 3-4pm, In person & virtual tour (3pm English; 4pm Chinese)
Art Basel Hong Kong VIP Program
May 28, Saturday, 11am-12pm, In person & virtual tour (facebook live)
RSVP [email protected]
A selection of Chao’s paintings will be on display at the gallery’s booth 1B20 at Art Basel Hong Kong
Alisan Fine Arts is honoured to present its ninth solo exhibition for Chao Chung-Hsiang (1919-1991), a renowned Chinese diaspora artist with whom the gallery has been working with since 1985. Chao, like his contemporaries Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun and Wu Guanzhong, studied at National Institute of Art, Hangzhou (currently China Academy of Art) under Lin Fengmian and Pan Tianshou, two pivotal figures in the history of Chinese modern art. From the 1950s to the 1980s, Chao progressively earned international recognition in New York after he immigrated there. His works reflect the characteristics of various important schools of painting in America and Europe such as Abstract Expressionism, Cubism, Pop Art and Action Painting. Combined with his Chinese roots, he successfully introduced a unique style of Chinese art to the West and since then has held an important position in the 20th century art world. This exhibition traces the development of Chao’s work from classical Chinese paintings to powerful B/W abstract ink paintings and finally to the integration of the East & West to create his signature florescent paintings. Through these works, we hope that one can rediscover the great artistic value of Chao`s art.
This exhibition is a continuation of Alisan Fine Arts’ 40th anniversary celebration that began last year. The series of exhibitions highlight the internationally acclaimed artists the gallery has been working with since its early years. The first three included Walasse Ting/ Sam Francis: Celebrating a Friendship, Chu Teh-Chun‘s Symphony and Lui Shou-Kwan Hong Kong Landscapes. A selection of paintings by Chao will also be on display at the gallery’s booth at Art Basel Hong Kong in May this year.
The New York School
Chao Chung-Hsiang received a fellowship from the Spanish government in 1956 to go to Spain for further study, and settled in New York in 1958. New York`s emerging art scene attracted various art schools and Chao had the chance to become friends with numerous important artists, such as Franz Klein, Roy Lichtenstein, Sam Francis, Mark Rothko, and Karel Appel. Chao Chung-Hsiang’s paintings reflect the characteristics of different schools that were active at this time in the New York, such as the powerful and bold Abstract Expressionism, the overlapping effect of Cubism, brilliant and dazzling colours of Pop Art, the dynamic splashing of Action Painting, and the symbolism of concentric circles. By using traditional ink brush strokes and fluorescent colours, Chao’s paintings are powerful yet sensitive at the same time. Influenced by Klein and Jackson Pollock the bold ink splashes and drippings on rice paper which appear in his abstract work are full of vitality. Conveying the inner soul of Chao his paintings had a huge influence on the future development of Chinese contemporary abstract ink painting.
Lin Fengmian’s bird painting
Before Chao Chung-Hsiang immigrated to New York, he studied at the National Institute of Art, Hangzhou (currently the China Academy of Art) in the 1930s, under the tutelage of Lin Fengmian and Pan Tianshou. Lin Fengmian was the first advocate of “East meets West” and birds were his favorite subject matter. Pan Tianshou, on the other hand, is the master of literati painting, and his favorite subjects were eagles and bamboo. Chao Chung-Hsiang skillfully mastered both of their techniques and developed his own unique style. Paired with bright acrylic colours, the birds in his paintings come to life. Chao might be classified as either an artist of Western abstract art using Chinese ink, or an artist of Chinese subject matters with Western techniques. As Professor Gao Minglu (scholar and writer of Chinese contemporary art) said: “Chao was an artist who transcended his time. He was a literati painter but one with aesthetic principles to justify the label Post-literati.” (“Chao Chung-Hsiang” Volume 4, Alisan Fine Arts, 2004, p. 15)
Alisan Fine Arts & Chao Chung-Hsiang
Alisan Fine Arts has been representing Chao Chung-Hsiang ‘s works since 1985. On the occasion of his solo exhibition that year, his teacher and mentor, Lin Fengmian came to see the show in person and wrote the inscription for the exhibition title. In the past 40 years, Alisan has held 8 solo exhibitions for Chao, including two historic travelling exhibitions, in 1999-2000 at Zhejiang West Lake Art Museum, Hangzhou; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Alisan Fine Arts; Club 21 Gallery, Singapore, and in 2004, at Taipei Museum of History, Taiwan; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Shanghai Art Museum; Adler Gallery, Paris; and Hong Kong Arts Centre. Since 1992, 4 important catalogues “Chao Chung-Hsiang” vol 1 to vol 4 have been published by the gallery. In addition, Alisan has exhibited Chao’s works at 17 different international art fairs, including the International Asian Art Fair, New York; Tresor Singapore; Art Basel Hong Kong; Shanghai West Bund; and Taipei Dangdai. The museums that have collected Chao’s painting through Alisan include: National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Shanghai Art Museum; Zhejiang West Lake Art Museum, Hangzhou; Hong Kong Museum of Art, M+.
Important exhibitions & museum collections
Chao’s works have also been exhibited in many international museums, including Arnot Museum, New York (1975), Queens Museum (1977), Brooklyn Museum (1981), British Museum and Museum fur Ostasiatische Kunst, Cologne (1995), Guggenheim Museum (1998), Zhu Qizhan Art Museum, Shanghai (2007), Hong Kong Museum of Art (2008). Moreover, his works are collected by Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Queens Museum, Columbia University, New York University, University of Maryland, USA; Taipei Fine Arts Museum.