Chao Chung-hsiang

1910-1991, Henan China


In her introduction to Chao Chung-hsiang, the second catalogue the gallery produced for the artist, Alice King noted “to Chao, painting was not merely a pictorial representation but a continuous thought process related to one’s spiritual well-being and outlook on life. He worked tirelessly to ensure that contemporary Chinese painting would become part of the mainstream and not a mere tributary of Western art.”

Like Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-chun and Wu Guanzhong, Chao studied under the renowned artist Lin Fengmian at the National Institute of Art, Hangzhou (currently the China Academy of Art) before graduating in 1939. In 1948, he immigrated to Taiwan, and in 1956 won a fellowship to study in Spain. He toured Paris and Europe, before settling in New York in 1958, where he remained for most his life. There he discovered for himself American Abstract Expressionist art, which inspired him to work conscientiously to achieve a synthesis of East and West. The main subjects of Chao's work are flowers and fish, birds, the cosmos and abstraction. From the 1970s, Yin-Yang symbols and hexagrams derived from the ancient Chinese divination text I-Ching began appearing in his paintings, referencing Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. In his paintings, blocks of dazzling fluorescent colour sporadically float upon expressive images rendered in rich ink washes. After more than thirty years in New York City, he moved to Hong Kong in 1989, then to Chengdu, and finally to Taiwan. He passed away in 1991, at the age of eighty-one.

In 1972, Chao won the New York Creative Artists Public Service Program Award. From 1997-99 his works were exhibited in the important travelling group exhibition Asian Traditions/Modern Expressions, organised by the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University. His work was also included in the exhibition China: 5,000 Years held at the Guggenheim Museum in 1998.

Alisan Fine Arts began representing Chao in 1985 and has organised four major solo exhibitions for him since 1992, including two travelling shows, in 1999 at the Zhejiang West Lake Art Museum; Hong Kong Arts Centre; Alisan Fine Arts; Club 21 Gallery in Singapore, in 2004 at National Museum of History, Taipei; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Shanghai Art Museum; Galerie Adler, Paris; Hong Kong Arts Centre. Chao’s works have been frequently exhibited at internationally renowned museums, including at the Guggenheim Museum, Zhu Qizhan Art Museum, and Hong Kong Museum of Art. Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery organised a solo exhibition for him in 2014. Alisan Fine Arts manages the artist’s estate.

His works have been collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Columbia University, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai; Zhejiang Westlake Art Museum, Hangzhou; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan; Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong; and M+, Hong Kong.

1910        Born in Henan, China
1920        Started studying painting with his father
1932-24   Studied at the Department of Art, Henan Teachers Normal School
1939        Graduated from Hangzhou National Institute of Art, China Exhibited at the First National Art Exhibition of Fine Arts in Nanjing and won watercolour figure painting prize
1940        Appointed leader of painting, Northwest China Artefacts Survey Group
1941-47   Appointed Head of the Department of Fine Arts, Northwest China Training League
1948        Left China for Taipei
1951-55   Served as Associate Professor of Arts, National Normal University and concurrently at College of Politics and Combat, Taipei, Taiwan
1956        Received a scholarship from the Spanish Government and left Taiwan to study in Madrid 1957 Became a permanent member of the National Art Association of Spain
1958        Toured Paris and Europe for six month and left for New York, USA
1959        Won the Non-Member Award at the 92nd annual exhibition of the American Watercolour Society 1972 Won the Creative Artists Public Service Program Award, New York State
1974        Selected by the Israeli Government to submit 30 works to appear in its educational film Art Around the World
1980        Selected by Viyella Fabrics, New York City to provide its colour of the year
1982        Returned to exhibit in Taiwan for the first time since 1965
1984        Established a studio in Taipei 1984-89 Travelled between Taipei and New York
1989        Moved from New York to Hong Kong, then to Chengdu, China, finally to Taiwan
1990        Came to Hong Kong, where he showed his works to Professor Michael Sullivan and Laurance Tam, Curator, Hong Kong Art Museum
                Settled in Taiwan in November
1991        Died in December in Taiwan 



  • The Planet at a Distance: Chao Chung-hsiang, Asia University Museum of Modern Art, Taichung, Taiwan
  • Taipei Dangdai, Alisan Fine Arts, Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, Taipei, Taiwan










  • Hong Kong Art: Open Dialogue Exhibition Series II- New Ink Art: Innovation and Beyond, curated by Mrs Alice King, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong 


  • 3rd Shanghai Ink Biennial, Exploration: New Ink Art Shanghai, Zhu Qizhan Art Museum, Shanghai, China 


  • 20th Century Chinese Landscape Painting, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China 



  • Beyond the Millenium: Paintings by the Contemporary Master Chao Chung-hsiang, Hong Kong Art Centre, Hong Kong


  • Pioneers of Chinese Abstraction: New York School: Chao Chung-hsiang, John Way; Paris School: Chu Teh-chun, Zao Wou-ki, Asia Art Centre, Taipei; Pun Art Gallery, Tainan; New Age Gallery, Taiching, Taiwan
  • Chao Chung-hsiang’s Paintings: a Selection, Chinese Painting Academy, Shanghai, China 


  • China 5,000 Years: Innovation and Transformation in the Arts, Guggeheim Museum, New York, USA 


  • International Asian Art Fair, Alisan Fine Arts, New York, USA


  • Twentieth Century Chinese Painting: Tradition and Innovation, Travelling exhibition, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong


  • The Art of Chao Chung-hsiang, Godfrey Far Eastern Art, London, UK
  • Retrospective Exhibition, Taiwan Museum of Art, Taichung, Taiwan
  • Taipei Art Fair, Taiwan
  • Tresors Art Fair, Singapore 


  • Solo Exhibition, Cherng Piin Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Chao Chung-hsiang: East-West Synthesis, Gallery 21, Singapore
  • Tresors Art Fair, Singapore 



  • Solo Exhibition, Miao Li Cultural Centre, Taipei, Taiwan 


  • Solo Exhibition, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • Modern Chinese Paintings, Abstract Expression of the Brush, Warwick Arts Trust, London, UK 


  • Gallery 80, Toronto, Canada
  • Spring Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan


  • Solo Exhibition, Chinese Culture University Museum, Taipei, Taiwan


  • Ancient Heritage, New Directions, New York, USA 


  • Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows, New York, USA
  • International Artists’ 77 Exhibition, New York, USA
  • Nassau County Fine Art Museum, Long Island, New York, USA 


  • Solo Exhibition, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA 


  • Solo Exhibition, Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, New York, USA 


  • Solo Exhibition, Russell Sage College, Albany, New York, USA
  • Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York, USA


  • Solo Exhibition, Parrish Museum, Southampton, New York, USA 


  • Norwalk Museum, Norwalk, Connecticut, USA 


  • Solo show, Hemingway Gallery, New York, USA
  • First International Art Show, New York, USA
  • Contemporary Chinese Artists, International Monetary Fund, Washington DC, USA
  • Atrium Gallery, Port Washington, New York, USA 


  • Contemporary Paintings Show, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA 


  • Contemporary Galleries, New York, USA 


  • Stamford Museum, Stamford, USA 


  • 92nd Annual Exhibition, American Watercolour Society, New Yoek, USA


  • Layetanas Galarias, Barcelona, Spain
  • Museum of Sao Paulo, Brazil by special invitation 

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA 
Queen’s Museum, New York, USA 
Columbia University, New York, USA 
Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, USA 
Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, USA 
Russel Sage College, Albany, USA 
Norwalk Museum, Norwalk, USA 
Stamford Art Museum, Stamford, USA 
University of Maryland, Baltimore, USA 
National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China 
Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai China 
Zhejiang Westlake Art Museum, Hangzhou, China 
Taipei Museum of Art, Taipei, Taiwan 
Taiwan Museum of Art, Taichung, Taiwan 
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong 
M+, Hong Kong