The authenticity and information of this work have kindly been confirmed by Hsiao Chin and Hsiao Chin International Art Foundation
After the last exhibition for Movimento Punto in 1966, Hsiao Chin made a decision to embark upon a different professional journey. His decision took him to many places, first working in London for six months, and then living and working in New York for six years before returning to Milan in 1972. In 1978 and 1980, he visited Taiwan and mainland China, places that he had not seen for 20 to 30 years. Hsiao Chin’s travels during this time reflected his sensitivity to global developments in art, and he retained his extraordinary organizational energy from the 1960s. He founded the International Surya Movement in Milan in 1977 and the International Shakti Movement in Copenhagen in 1989. His abstract art developed with the influences of Zen and Qi, and the Samadhi series is an important achievement in his work with those themes.
“Those achieving Samadhi call it fate. Through observation, the heart enters a realm.”
Excerpted from The Treatise on Foundations for Yoga Practitioners Vol. 11
Samadhi (Sanskrit: समाधि) is a concept in Buddhism. It is a state of oneness in meditative consciousness where complete absorption allows the person to attain an undisturbed state of serenity. When Hsiao Chin’s daughter Samantha unexpectedly passed away in 1990, and he was unable to work during this period of grief. After the intense pain subsided, his style suddenly changed, giving birth to Light: Homage to Sublimation. The series marked the new beginning of his life and art, and he created his most familiar pieces from the 1990s, including The Eternal Garden, Transcending the Great Threshold, Light on the Other Shore, Ascendance of Samantha, and Samadhi. The composition of Samadhi-23 (Lot 1041) reflects the compositions of Hsiao Chin’s Dancing Lights series from his Movimento Punto (1961-1966) days, with compositions split in a top-heavy 80-20 proportion. In contrast to Dancing Lights, Hsiao melts his geometric elements in Samadhi. In his earlier styles, rays of light would leap across large fields of colour, but in his Samahdi series, the field of colour has doubled, expanding across the majority of the painting, while brilliant spots of light seem to burst from underneath. Samahdi is permeated with the countless joys of life, which are accented by the highly saturated, glittering acrylic colours. In Dancing Lights, round or square shapes hover in the void at the bottom of the paintings, reflecting the concepts ‘heaven is round’ or ‘earth is square’, but by the 1990s, these geometric elements became lines that looked like warm, flowing currents. They work even more closely with the structured lines above, seeming to embody the harmonious union of the human and the universal. Samadhi-23 is reminiscent of Emperor Huizong of Song’s famous work Auspicious Cranes. Although Auspicious Cranes was made one thousand years before Hsiao Chin’s work, the artists both long for what lies beyond the human world. They are rather different, and it is just a happy coincidence that a refined ancient court painting and a vigorous post-war abstract artwork have compositions that echo one another.
The death of a loved one often proves to be life’s cruellest experience. For artists, such grief often causes significant changes in their creative journeys. For example, Zao Wou-ki’s internationally renowned Hurricane Period suddenly ended because his second wife May Zao died in 1972. In the 10 years that followed, he embarked upon his Infinite Period, which began with empty black and white images. Hsiao Chin was tested in a similar way, but his work was neither negative nor dispirited, and the works actually contained brighter colours. This can invariably be traced back to Hsiao’s deeper understanding of Buddhist and Daoist philosophies. In Samadhi-23, Hsiao used a broad and flat array of brushes to create the solid, blockish violet lines that are simultaneously lines and planes. Through these blockish lines, he constructs a careful yet rhythmic abstract painting, which has faint hints of Mondrian’s geometric constructions. The brushwork is lyrical and expressive, typical of his Samadhi series. Between these blocks and lines, a gorgeous pale purple background is visible, and the points of colour gushing onto the image are like sparks of energy resulting from the rhythmic movement and collision of these lines. In a June 2017 interview with Sotheby’s, Hsiao said that before beginning a painting, he first sits quietly, immersed in contemplation. In this work, we can imagine that he acquired the rich energy of the universe through quiet introspection, finding a delightful balance between the rational and the perceptual.
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