Chao Shao-an: Moments between Worlds

Author: Gina Costa


Chao Shao-an: Moments between Worlds

February 4 – June 20, 2020

NOTRE DAME, IN.  Chao Shao-an (趙少昂, 1905-1998) lived a momentous life vividly expressed through brush and ink over a nearly eighty-year career as an artist.  This intimate exhibition of seventeen works are drawn from the collection of Chao Shao-an’s family and feature detailed yet poetic images of the natural world for which the artist developed an international reputation.  These album leaf paintings highlight Chao Shao-an’s remarkable ability to capture the essence of subtle moments in nature through vibrant brushwork and coloration.


The artist came of age in the southern Chinese province of Guangzhou in the early years following the collapse of China’s last imperial dynasty. During this period of rapid change, Chao began his first apprenticeship in ink painting under one of the three masters of the Lingnan School of painting — famous for creatively blending international painting methods and materials onto a foundation of traditional Chinese technique. Chao Shao-an took over responsibility for the Lingnan School and began his career as an award-winning artist that brought recognition to the Lingnan style across the globe.


Through the unrest of the Japanese occupation of China during World War II and the subsequent civil war, Chao developed a style that emphasized the traditional category of bird-and-flower painting and the close study of nature. From the 1930s-1960s, Chao Shao-an traveled around the world for solo and group exhibitions across Asia, Europe, and the United States. During that time, he settled permanently in Hong Kong in 1948 and established the Lingnan Art Studio in his residence. There, he mentored generations of students in the Lingnan method and ensured its place as one of the most influential styles of twentieth century Chinese ink painting.


“In a remarkable continuation of Chao’s international legacy, two generations of his descendants have attended the University of Notre Dame and have made this distinguished exhibition a possibility” offers Director Joseph Antenucci Becherer. The exhibition is curated by Fletcher Coleman from the Department of Art, Art History and Design and made possible through the partnership of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies.


Chao Shao-an, Chinese, 1905 – 1998

Pomegrante: Seeds of an Open Pomegranate

Ink and pigment on paper

Courtesy of the Artist’s family.

Chao Shao An

Originally published by Gina Costa at on January 02, 2020.