Merging with the cosmos: the power of art

- through Henry Oudin

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Attention masterpieces! Run to admire the vibrant and radiant canvases of Chinese painter Hsiao Chin. “The Colors of Zen”, his retrospective, on view at the Guimet Museum until June 3, is an invitation to contemplation.

His paintings are an ode to joy, a hymn to life. A hymn to color, with orange, pink, turquoise, blue and green colors, vibrant and radiant, which flood his works, thus inviting us to contemplation. It is an explosion of colors, but also of shapes (round, square, triangles or rectangles) that jump out at visitors entering the exhibition halls of the Heidelbach hotel, which is hosting the Hsiao Chin retrospective for a few weeks. . An explosion of geometric shapes as evidenced in particular by "The universe projection", a canvas from 1965 made up of rays radiating cosmic energy that give the impression of a circular movement open to space.

Throughout the rooms, the visitor also discovers paintings studded with points forming a form of cosmic magma which generates a very stimulating energy. “After the trials I have gone through in my life and the revelations that have followed the study of Zen Buddhism, I have come to realize the smallness of the Self. I realized that only when this 'little me' becomes one with the cosmic 'big me' does its existence have any meaning and value. I try to merge with the cosmos from the state of no-Self and experience this enlightenment carried by the power of the cosmos,” he explains to Maggie Wu, from the Hsiao Chin Foundation. , in a text from the exhibition catalogue.

First museum exhibition in Paris

This is the first time that a French museum has devoted an exhibition to this Chinese artist, born 84 years ago in Shanghai. Some of his paintings had however already been shown in Paris in 1964, in the international gallery of contemporary art. It is regrettable that it took fifty-five years for a work of such strength, present in the collections of MoMA and the MET, and other great Western museums, from Philadelphia to Toronto, Barcelona and Lausanne, is shown on the banks of the Seine by an institution.

“After the trials I have gone through in my life and the revelations that have followed the study of Zen Buddhism, I have come to realize the smallness of the Self. » Hsiao Chin

"The Colors of Zen" brings together some fifty emblematic paintings from his work which have been loaned by the Hsiao Chin Foundation and by private European and Asian collectors. "We have brought together a corpus characteristic of the great moments in the painter's work and its evolution since the 1950s through a selection of iconic works", explains Jérôme Neutres, the curator of the exhibition.

And that's all

It is a work woven with Asian and Western influences. Hsiao Chin was trained in the early 1950s in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, by master Li Zhongsheng, "an outstanding art teacher who knew how to guide every young soul", underlines the artist. This invites him to listen to his inner voice and “not to imitate others”. The young man, who wanted to explore the world, went to live for some time in Spain, in Madrid then in Barcelona, ​​before settling in Italy, in Milan from 1959. It was there, in 1961, influenced by the study of the sacred Tibetan texts in which he immersed himself then, that he created the “Punto” movement, the point in Italian. The point which is the smallest component of art. "Punto" refers to the Far Eastern philosophical conception that all things are One. His canvases are then sprinkled with signs. Signs – “inner gestures” wrote Henri Michaux – which evoke Chinese calligraphy as in his very beautiful series “Dancing light”. In 1973, while studying Zen thought, he realized that it was in line with the modern artistic research he was undertaking. “Zen had such an influence, he underlines, that I decided to abandon the constraints of Western rationality to leave the field free to my Eastern intuition”. Four years later, back from the United States, where he went to teach and where he met Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning, he launched another current, “Surya”, which means the sun in Sanskrit. The sun, source of life and energy. He then begins to paint images with electric colors that radiate from a point.

A form of abstract expressionism mixed with oriental wisdoms, Hsiao Chin's work builds a bridge between Eastern and Western art, attempting to infuse the latter with the spirit of contemplation that flourishes and flourishes in Asia: the spirit of Zen that aims to find an ideal kingdom, "where nature and man are one", beyond the limits of life and death

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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