Chao Chung-Hsiang (Zhao Chunxiang) (Chinese, 1910-1991). Ink and color on paper depicting two birds perched atop an abstract swirl. Signed along the lower right, and inscribed "to dear Kathreyn [sic] Cozene: for your birth all best wishes for today, March 24, 1973. Chung-Hsiang Chao, NYC."
Chao Chung-Hsiang was born in Henan, China, in 1910. He began his artistic training under Lin Fengmian at the Hangzhou Academy of Fine Art, which provided him with both a strong basis in classical Chinese painting and in the growing movements of modern art. He left China in 1948, initially traveling through Taiwan and then Europe, before settling in New York City. There, he threw himself into the burgeoning Abstract Expressionist movement, creating bright, abstract canvases with oil and acrylic. In the early 1960s, he made a return to painting with the traditional Chinese media of ink and wash on rice paper. While he returned in many ways to traditional artistic practices, he retained many aspects of Abstract Expressionism, such as his vivid colors and gestural brushstrokes.
This artwork shows Chung-Hsiangís mastery of traditional painting techniques blending with a modernist sensibility. His manipulation of the ink and wash are expert and clearly display his classical training; at the same time, the colors are energetic, almost fluorescent, and the strong shape and form of the abstract lines lends a strong sense of the modern to the composition. The birds speak to the emotional state of Chung-Hsiangís time in New York. Chung-Hsiang left his wife and son behind in China when he went off traveling, and during his time in New York, he took to keeping birds as pets to assuage the loneliness. The birds featured often in his works as a representation of family and longing. While there is a tinge of sadness to the artwork, its original purpose is a reminder that Chung-Hsiangís life was still far from bleak: this painting was created as a birthday gift for a friend, a member of the family he found for himself in his new home.Sight; Height: 22 1/2 in x width: 22 in. Framed; Height: 29 1/2 in x width: 29 1/2 in.
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