A major retrospective of pioneering Chinese abstract artist Hsiao Chin's work has opened at the Mark Rothko Art Centre in Latvia. A new film exploring the artist's practice and global influences can be found on the Wallpaper* Instagram.
'When I was a younger man, art was a lonely thing. No galleries, no collectors, no critics, no money,' says Hsiao Chin, quoting Mark Rothko in a new film created in conjunction with his retrospective at the Mark Rothko Art Centre. 'Yet, it was a golden age, for we all had nothing to lose and a vision to gain.'
It's Hsiao Chin's own vision that sets him apart in the story of abstract art, which was often weighted towards American art in the mid-20th century. When Hsiao Chin began finding his artistic pulse in the late 1950s and early 60s, abstraction was in the wake of Informalism and in a volatile mood of action painting, both described by the artist in the film as 'more actions than thoughts'. He was in search of something different, more meditative, what Rothko deemed 'pockets of silence'. The results were minimal and utterly fundamental forms in black and white, drawing on the philosophy of Laozi and Zhuangzi. Hsiao Chin later discovered the work Tibetan Buddhist art, which prompted the use of vivid colour. These bold compositions fuse a European approach to abstraction with flushes of Fauvism and the liberal brushwork of Chinese calligraphy.