Breeze from Paris

Breeze from Paris

Exhibition Period
31 May 2014 - 29 Jun 2014
ESLITE GALLERY∣5F, No. 11, Songgao Rd., Taipei 11073, Taiwan
Opening Hours
31 May 2014

Outstanding works of art by Lalan, T’ang Haywen, Hsiung Ping-Ming, Pan Yulin, and Sanyu are shown in the exhibition “Breeze from Paris”, representing the glory of the Chiese artists of the 20th century.

The exhibition is mainly devoted to Lalan, a distinguished artist who had been active in France, however, is lesser known in Asia through her painting than her role as the first wife of Zao Wou-ki. Some 30 pieces of painting from different periods of Lalan’s creative career will be shown, providing a comprehensive overview of her achievement in the field of art. 

Born in 1921, Lalan was brought up in a scholarly family, where her gift in music was cultivated from a young age. At the age of 14, Lalan met Zao Wou-ki who would become an internationally renowned artist later, and married him a few years later. The couple moved to Paris in 1948 where Lalan continued her studies in music composition and modern dance while being Zao's muse. She took up painting after divorcing Zao in 1957 and had never cease painting till an accident took her life in 1995. Lalan started out creating abstract paintings with calligraphic signs under Zao's inspiration. However, she quickly developed a distinct style driven by her strong urge of self-expression. Spirit of Chinese traditional landscapes was brought into Lalan’s painting during 1970’s and the artist’s accomplishments of music and modern dance also add graceful qualities of poetry and rhythm in her works.

Apart from Lalan’s paintings, “Breeze from Paris” will also show abstract works on paper by T’ang Haywen, works infused with feminine charm by Pan Yulin, sculptures by Hsiung Ping-Ming and sketches by Sanyu, representing the great era when cultures of Oriental and Occidental met and fruited into magnificent art. 


Standing between two great cultures of Chinese and France, Lalan created splendid paintings that blended the Western abstraction and Chinese landscape while expressing the spirit of a modern woman.

Born in 1924, Lalan was brought up in a scholarly family, where her gift in music was cultivated from a young age. Lalan moved to Paris in 1948 where she started composing music and later study modern dance in Conservatoire nationale supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris (CNSMDP or Conservatoire de Paris). Driven by passion for visual art, she took up painting after divorcing Zao Wou-ki in 1957 and had never ceased painting till an accident took her life in 1995. Lalan started out creating abstract paintings with calligraphic signs under Zao's inspiration. However, she quickly developed a distinct style driven by her strong urge of self-expression. Lalan used saturated colors to express her strong feelings. For instance, she would spray out blue or brown color on the canvas and then painted over with heavy brushworks of black and white. Spirit of Chinese traditional landscapes was brought into Lalan’s painting during 1970’s and the artist’s accomplishments of music and modern dance also add graceful qualities of poetry and rhythm in her works.

Born in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China
2011        "Dance Melodies in Colours: Paintings by Lalan", University Museum and Art Gallery,
                The University of Hong Kong Museum Society, Hong Kong, China
2010        "Fragrance of the Mind: A Retrospective of Lalan's Work", Macao Museum of Art, 
                Macao, China; National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan
2009        "Echoes of Paradise: Retrospective of Lalan's Art", Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou, China
      "My Vision of Paradise: Retrospective of Lalan's Art", Shanghai Art Museum,Shanghai, China
1990        "Lalan", Espace Pierre Cardin, Paris, France
1983        "Lalan", Maison pour tous, Yvelines, France
1982        "Lalan", Galerie Bellint , Paris, France
1973        "Lalan", Iris Clert Gallery , Paris, France
1972        "Intérieur Externe", Maison des arts et loisirs, Laon, France
1971        "Lalan", Galerie Moderne, Silkeborg, Denmark 
"Extérieur-Intérieur", La Galerie Jacques Desbrière, Paris, France
1967        "Lalan", Hélène de Beauvoir, Strasbourg, France
1966        "Lalan", Galerie 7, Paris, France
1963        "Lalan", Paperback Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
1960        "Lalan", Galerie R. Creuze, Paris, France 

2014        "Breeze from Paris", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan 
1994        "3 Femmes, 3 Recherches – Roberta Gonzalez.Lalan.Yann Piat", Musée de l'hôtel de ville,Le

                Lavandou, France
1989        "Tian Anmen 4 Juin-4 Décembre je n'oublie", Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
1981        "Lalan et Marcel Van Thienen", Centre d'action culturelle, Montbéliard, France 
"Lalan et Marcel Van Thienen", Abbaye Saint-Germain d’Auxerre, Auxerre, France
1980        "Lalan et Marcel Van Thienen", Centre d'animation culturelle, Mâcon, France
"Lalan et Marcel Van Thienen", Maison de la culture des Hauts de Belleville, Paris,France

1975        Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France
1971        Ministry of Culture, France



T'ANG Haywen

Born in Fujian, China, T’ang Haywen was a self-taught artist spending most of his professional life in Paris. As a child, T’ang had studied Chinese calligraphy under the instruction of his grandfather. After he moved to Paris in 1948 to continue his Medical education, he soon acquainted himself with the work of western artists and chose to be a painter.

Ink was the means of T’ang’s creation since he regarded it as the paramount medium of the Oriental painting since the end of the 9th century. Shaped by the spiritual elements of the Taoist approach to painting as well as the influences of the Western masters of the impressionism and modernism, T’ang found his own path through ink painting to capture the interplay of energies that give life to the natural world. 

Born in Xiamen, Fujian Province, China
2011        "T'ang Haywen", Yishu 8 Cultural Center, Beijing, China 
2003        "T'ang Haywen", Galerie Encre de Chine, Paris, France
2002        "T'ang Haywen: Paths of Ink", Musée Guimet, Paris, France; Shiseido Foundation,
                  Tokyo, Japan
"Presence de T'ang", Musée des Beaux-Arts, Chambery, France
1998        "T'ang Haywen", Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong, China

1997        "A Retrospective of T'ang Haywen", Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan 

1996-1997      "Travelling Retrospective of T'ang Haywen", Musée Océanographique de Monaco, 
Monaco; Museum of Art, Hong Kong; Singapore Museum of Art, Singapore; Museum fur Ostasiatische Kunst, Cologne, Germany
1986        "T'ang Haywen", Cultural Centre, Bottrop-Oberhausen, Germany
1985        "T'ang Haywen", Burgerzentrum, Chateau de Borbeck, Essen, Germany
1984        "T'ang Haywen", Musée des Beaux Arts de Vitré, Château de Vitré, France
"T'ang Haywen", Musée des Beax Arts de Vannes, France
1983              "T'ang Haywen", Musée des Beaux Arts de Quimper, France
      "T'ang Haywen", Art in Academy, National Academy of Science, Washington, USA
 "T'ang Haywen", Musée des Beaux Arts de Brive, France
1980              "T'ang Haywen", Musée des Ponchettes, Nice, France
1979              "T'ang Haywen", Musée Savoisien, Chambery, France
1975              "T'ang Haywen", Galerie Nane Stern, Paris, France
   "T'ang Haywen", Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Great Britain
1974              "T'ang Haywen", Ellingham Mill Art Society, Norfolk Museum, Great Britain
1972              "T'ang Haywen", Musée de l’Abbaye Saint Croix des Sables d’Olonne, France
1965              "T'ang Haywen", Centre Cultural Midsommagarden, Stockholm, Sweden
 "T'ang Haywen", International Art Center, Detroit, USA
1964              "T'ang Haywen", Galerie Galaxie, Detroit, Michigan, USA
"T'ang Haywen", Galerie Welter, Paris, France
1963              "T'ang Haywen", Galerie Creuse, Paris, France
"T'ang Haywen", Alaska Methodist University (now Alaska Pacific University),
Anchorage, AL, USA
1959              "T'ang Haywen", Musée des Oudaias, Rabat, Morocco
"T'ang Haywen", Fine Arts School, Casablanca, Morocco
"T'ang Haywen", Galerie Bradtke, Luxembourg
1958              "T'ang Haywen", Galerie Belles Images, Rabat, Morocco
1957              "T'ang Haywen", Galerie Belvedere, Hergiswill am See, Lucerne, Switzerland
1955              "T'ang Haywen", Galerie Voyelles, Paris, France

2014              "Breeze from Paris", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan 
2013              "T'ang Haywen a modern Chinese painter" at the Art Basel in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
2005                "Encre/ Chine: Ink Paintings by Jean Degottex, Gao Xingjian and T’ang Haywen", University
                         Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
1999-2000         "Maitres de l'Encre: Chang Dai-Chien - T'ang Haywen - Zao Wou-ki",  Musée de Pontoise, France
1995                 "Empire of the Dragons", Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark
1989                 "Tian Anmen 4 Juin-4 Décembre je n'oublie", Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France




Sanyu’s work uniquely blended the romantic quality of the West and spirit of Chinese literati, evolving into charming art that marks a distinct achievement of Chinese art in the 20th century. Sanyu was born in Szechuan, China in 1901. He had attended the Shanghai Art Academy and went to Japan in 1901. Sanyu arrived in Paris in the following year and soon adapted the life style of the city where he would stay for the rest of his life. By early 30s, Sanyu had made quite a name for himself in France. Fusing the unrestrained style of Chinese ink painting with the clean, spare qualities of the Fauvist school, the artist invested his paintings with characteristically Chinese reflection and emotional subtlety.

 Born in Nanchong, Szechuan Province, China
2013        "Sanyu – A Pioneering Avant-Garde in Chinese Modernist Art", Tina Keng Gallery, Taipei,

2010        "Sanyu's Solo Exhibition", Tina Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
2005        "San Yu: Watercolors and Drawings 1920-1930", Bureau d'Art - Nadine Nieszawer,

                Paris, France
2004        "Sanyu, l'écriture du corps", Guimet Musée National des Arts Asiatiques, Paris, France
                Woman, Metamorphosis of Modernity, Centre d'Estudis d'Art Contemporani, Spain
2001        "In Search of a Homeland—The Art of San Yu", National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan
               "Model and Cat", Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
1998        "Paris.The Grand Hut.Sanyu—Sanyu's Water Color Sketches", Lin & Keng Gallery,

                Taipei, Taiwan
               "Paris Sanyu Giant Cabir", Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
1997        "Sanyu Oil Painting", Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
1995        "Sanyu Solo Exhibition", National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan
1994        "Sanyu", Tamshui Center of Art & Culture, Taipei, Taiwan
1993        "The exhibition of Sanyu and Yun Gee", Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
1992        "One-man exhibition", Dimensions Art Center, Taipei, Taiwan
1984        "Sanyu", Jin-Ling Gallery, Kaoshuang, Taiwan
               "One-man exhibition", Gallery Orient, organized by Chen Yen-Fong, Paris, France
               "Sanyu", National History Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
               "Sanyu", Taichung Culture Center, Taiwan
1980        "Sketches and Water Colors of Sanyu from the 1930's", Ming-Men Gallery, Taichung, Taiwan;

                Print Maker's Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan; Galerie J. C. Riedel, Paris, France
1978        "One-man exhibition", National History Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
1977        "The exhibition from Mr. Roche's former collections", Galerie J.C.Riedel, Paris, France
1965        "One-man exhibition", the home of Natacha and Etienne Léry, Paris, France
1950        "Sanyu", Passedoit Gallery, New York, USA
1934        "Sanyu", Kunstzaal Van Lier, Amsterdam, Netherlands
1933        "Sanyu", Kunstzaal Van Lier, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2014        "Breeze from Paris", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan 
2013        Art Basel in Hong Kong 2013, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, Hong Kong
2005        "Summer Dream: Work on Paper", Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
2004        "Sanyu & Yun Gee", Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
2003        "Future plurality", Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
               "Themes on Women", Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
2000        "Works on Paper 1929-1949", Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
1993        "Sanyu & Yun Gee Exposition", Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
1989        "China-Paris Exhibition", Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
1955        Salon des Independants, France
1954        Salon des Independants, France
1948        Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
1946        Salon des Independants, France
1945        Salon des Independants, France
1944        Salon des Independants, France
1943        Salon des Independants, France
1942        Salon des Independants, France
1938        Salon des Independants, France
1936        Salon des Tuileries, France
1932        Salon des Tuileries, France
                Salon des Tuileries, France
1930        Salon des Tuileries, France
1928        Salon d'Automne, France
1925        Salon d'Automne, France



PAN Yulin

Renowned as the first Chinese female modern artist established firmly in the Western art scene, Pan Yulin’s art is bold and firm in terms of both her brushstrokes and ambition. Nevertheless, feminine quality and consciousness were never lost in her work. Received academic training in Shanghai and Paris, Pan's works demonstrate techniques from the Fauvism and Impressionist schools of art but always retained an individual style of her own which displayed the unmistakable characteristics of traditional Chinese painting. Pan's works can be found in the Asian art collections of well-known French museums, including Musée Cernuschi, Musée National d'Art Moderne and Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. When she passed away, she had bequeathed to the Anhui Museum in China several thousand of her original works and sketches, as a tribute to her native village. 

Born in Tongcheng, Anhui Province, China 
2008        "A Special Exhibition of Pan Yu-liang's Work Focused on Feminine Appeal",Suzhou Museum,

                Suzhou, China
1963        "PAN Yuliang", New York, US
                "PAN Yuliang", San Francisco , US
1957        "PAN Yuliang", Galerie d'Orsay, France
1956        "PAN Yuliang", Greece
1954        "PAN Yuliang", London, UK
1953        "PAN Yuliang", Galerie d'Orsay, France
1947        "PAN Yuliang", UK
1929-36        5 solo exhibitions, Nanjing, China 
1928        "PAN Yuliang", Shanghai, China 
2014        "Breeze from Paris", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan 
1973        Société du Salon Violet, France
1967        Special Group Exhibition of Contemporary Artists, New York, US
                Société du Salon Violet, France
1959        Salon d'Automne, France
1957        The 4th National Art Exhibition of the Republic of China, Taipei, Taiwan
1947        Salon des Independants, France
                Salon d'Automne, France
1946        Salon d'Automne, France
1945        "Chinese Paintings", Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-arts de Paris, Paris, France
                Salon des Independants, France
                Salon d'Automne, France
1944        Salon des Independants, France
                Salon d'Automne, France
1940        Salon des Independants, France
1939        Salon des Independants, France
1938        Salon, France
1929        The First National Art Exhibition, Shanghai, China
1927        International Art Exhibition, Italy 
1926        Roman International Art Exhibition, Rome, Italy 
1925        Exhibition of Bureau of Education, Nanjing, China
1975        Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France
1967        Belgium Gold Prize, Belgium
1959        Paris Gold Prize, Paris, France 
1958        Belgium Silver Prize, Belgium
1945        National Gold Prize, France
1927        Gold Prize, International Art Exhibition, Italy
1926        Gold Prize, Roman International Art Exhibition, Rome, Italy


HSIUNG Ping-Ming

Hsiung Ping-Ming was a sculptor, calligrapher, and art critic, who was born in China and lived and worked in Paris for most of his professional life.  Hsiung went to Paris to continue his education in philosophy in 1947, but was later inspired by the sculptor Marcel Gimond and enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1950 to train with him. Human figure and animals are the subjects of Hsiung’s sculptures. One of the themes the artist kept coming back to was buffalo, which used to be the major working animal in the farm in the pre-industrialized era of China through which the artist expressed his strong well as well as his feelings toward his homeland. 

1922        Born in Nanking, China
2002        Lived and worked in Paris, France, where he passed away at the age of 80
1944        Graduated from the Department of Philosophy, United Southwestern University, Kunming, China
1947        Studied in the doctorate program of philosophy at University de Paris, Paris, France
1948        Studied at the stone sculpture studio, École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts,
             and later the Marcel GIMOND Studio, Académie Julian in Paris, France

1949        Studied at the Ossip ZADKINE Studio, Académie de la Grande Chaumière
                Returned to the Marcel GIMOND Studio, Académie Julian in Paris, France
1950        Studied at the Alfred Auguste JANNIOT Monument Sculpture Studio, École nationale supérieure

                des beaux-arts in Paris, France 
1999        "A Touring Exhibition of Hsiung Ping-Ming' s Art—An Odyssey Abroad and Return",
Museum of Fine Art, Beijing/Shanghai Museum of Fine Art, Shanghai/Kuanming City Museum,
Yunnan,China; National Museum of History, Taipei/Mountain Art Museum, Kaohisung, Taiwan.
1996        Fairmate Art Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
1987        "The Shaping of Return", Kunming, China
1985        "Concept of an Exhibition—or a Conceptual Exhibition", Lion Art Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
1975        "Hsiung Ping-Ming Solo Exhibition", Eglisau, Switzerland
1974        "Hsiung Ping-Ming Watercolors", Miller Gallery, Bern, Switzerland
1969        "Hsiung Ping-Ming Watercolors", Miller Gallery, Bern, Switzerland
1959        "Hsiung Ping-Ming Solo Exhibition", Bern, Switzerland
1956        "Hsiung Ping-Ming Iron Sculptures", Galerie Iris Clert, Paris, France
               "Hsiung Ping-Ming Ink Paintings", Lausanne, Switzerland
 "Hsiung Ping-Ming Ink Paintings", Geneva, Switzerland
1953        "Hsiung Ping-Ming Solo Exhibition", Baltimore Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland


2014        "Breeze from Paris", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan 

2010        "Perfection‧Serenity‧Substance‧Unrestraint" CHEN Hsia-yu, Hsiung Ping-Ming, HSIA Yan

                Sculpture Exhibition, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
1997        "Chinese Modern Art", Paris, France
                "Chinese, Japanese and Arabian Calligraphy", Rabat, Morocco
                "International Calligraphy Exchange Exhibition", Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1996        "Tokyo International Calligraphy Exchange Exhibition", Tokyo, Japan
1995        "Modern Sculptures—Five Elements", The Gate Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
                "Korean International Calligraphy Exhibition", Korea
1994        "Hsiung Ping-Ming, WU Guan-zhong, Chu De-chun Group Exhibition", Citizen Gallery,
"Exhibition of Chinese Artists in Paris", Fairmate Art Gallery, Taipei
 "Works by Chinese Masters in France", Centre Culturel et d'Information de Taipei,  Paris, France
  "The Beauty of Calligraphy", Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
 "International Calligraphy Exhibition", Taipei

1993        "International Calligraphy Exchange Exhibition", Beijing
1992        "Expose internationale des sculptures animaux", Rambouillet, France
1988        "Y2K World Animal Sculptures Exhibition", Nevers, France
1983        "Exhibition of Chinese Artists in Paris", France
1974        Salon des réalités nouvelles, Paris, France
1973        "Beaux arts des six", Paris, France
1966        "Susse Exhibition", France
1965        "Forme humaine Sculpture Exhibition", Paris, France
                "Mur Virant", World Architecture Society, Paris, France
1962        "Objects",  Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris, France
                "Salon of Young Sculpture", France
1959        "Exhibition of the Buffalo", Salon de Mai, Paris, France
1956        "Exhibition of the Raven", Salon de Mai, Paris, France
1955        "Exhibition of the Raven", Salon de Mai, Paris, France
1954        "Exhibition of the Wire Pigeon",  Salon de Mai, Paris, France
                "Exhibition of the Crying Wolf", Salon of Young Sculpture, France
1953        "Exhibition of the Escaped Mother", Salon d'Automne, Paris, France
1984        China Times Essay Award for ‘On Rodin-A Selected Diary’
1983        Chevalier de l'Order des Palmes Académiques
1962        Annual Award, Salon of Young Sculpture, for Striding Buffalo
                Howard Fellowship, Brown University
1952        Bronze medal of Le Salon des Artistes Français for Body of A Maiden and

                the amid' artist award for Portrait of Wang Chi-yin
                Second Prize, the Coton Art Award, for Pregnant Woman
1998        Lu Xun relief commissioned by the European Alumni Association of Beijing University

                for the centennial anniversary of Peking University
                Statue of Lu Xun commissioned by the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature
1988        Iron Crane selected for long-term display in the Seoul Olympic Games Sculpture Park
1986        Three Poems (Taipei: Modern Book Series, Asian Culture Publishing)
1985        Theoretical System of Chinese Calligraphy (Hong Kong: The Commercial Press [HK] Ltd.)
                Concept of an Exhibition-or a Conceptual Exhibition (Taipei: Lion Art Publisher)
1984        Zhang Xu and the Wild Cursive (French version included in the Publication of

                l'Institut des Hautes Etudes Chinoises, Collège de France)
1983        On Rodin-A Selected Diary (Taipei: Lion Art Publisher)
1972        Teaching Chinese, a collection of poems
1969        Sous la Silhouette, a collection of poetry and paintings


The Art of Lalan : Landscapes of the Mind

By Jennifer Chang (張曉筠)


“Je ne me confine jamais dans une tour d’ivoire.”

                              Lalan, 1981


Identity matters in life and art.  It is what individuals believe and hold to be true – their identities – that underpins the wisdom and courage to express oneself on the world stage.  When Lalan (謝景蘭, 1921-1995) stated in a 1981 interview that “I never confine myself in an ivory tower,” [1] she was commenting as much about her creative and intellectual vision as her own quest for independence as a woman and an artist in the modern age.

In the field of East Asian art history, women artists have remained in the shadows of their male counterparts, whereby the patriarchal tradition of the arts emphasizes the contributions of male artists without comprehension of women active as artists whose talent and influence should be regarded as critical to the vitality of East Asian art.  Recent studies of premodern Chinese and Japanese art history that focus on women painters serve as a platform for discussing the female other than as pictorial subjects and extend to research on modern art history of Chinese and Japanese painting. However, the evaluation of the topic of women in artistic, cultural, and philosophical traditions of nineteenth and twentieth century East Asia is incomplete without analysis of the relationships between female and male artists and the social and transnational contexts in which they operated that shaped the entirety.

The example of Lalan demonstrates the complex realities of an overseas Chinese woman artist whose achievements have been overlooked relative to the success of her first husband, Zao Wou-ki (趙無極, 1920-2013).  Her literati background, Christian mission school education, combined with her studies at the National Academy of Art (國立藝術專科學校), National Conservatory of Music (國立音樂院), National Shanghai Institute of Music (上海音樂專科學校), and the Conservatoire nationale supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris (CNSMDP or Conservatoire de Paris) informed and facilitated her transition to the visual arts in France to create “l’art synthèse” or integrated art (綜合藝術).  After 1956, Lalan’s intellectual engagement in electroaccoustic music research and composition for film and stage enabled her to renegotiate the ideological and stylistic tendencies of Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) landscape painting in context of spatial movement of sound in physical or virtual space. A full assessment of Lalan’s career in terms of her self-perception and reception by contemporary audiences, critics, and cultural figures suggests that as a Chinese woman artist based in France, she defied categorization as defined by postwar art movements, including the spheres of avant-garde music and modern dance. 

Lalan had arrived in Paris in 1948, transplanted to a major European city rife with possibilities and experimentation.  Upon viewing a documentary film on Martha Graham,[2] she developed a keen interest in modern dance and soon enrolled in dance classes at the American Students’ and Artists’ Center (or “Le Centre Américain”).[3] From 1951-54, Lalan studied composition at the Conservatoire de Paris and also traveled to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the United Kingdom visiting museums and key sites of historic interest.[4] Under the aegis of poet, writer, and China-admirer, Henri Michaux (1899-1984), she and Zao Wou-ki also became regular guests of salons such as Pierre Boulez’s Domaine Musical.[5]  

Against the backdrop of a postwar Paris oriented towards greater abstraction inspired by Asian metaphysics gleaned from Hinduism, Taoism and Chan or Zen Buddhism, Lalan’s shift to painting in 1957 also marked a personal exploration of classical Chinese art traditions.  In late 1956, Lalan returned to China for the first time since 1948. During her six-month trip, she not only visited family members but also toured museums and attended cultural events with a fresh outlook on her own heritage – and her future.[6]  Lalan recalled that her calligraphic paintings from this period as a form of “gestural abstraction, close to writing.”[7]  

By the late 1960s to early 1980s, the bold pictographic form of Chinese script-like brushstrokes receded into the shadows and light of Lalan’s compositions.  Merging her modern dance experience and electroaccoustic music composition with her study of the philosophy of Zhuangzi (莊子, active 4th century BCE), [8] Lalan turned to natural objects and physical phenomena to underscore the notion of space, balance, and reverence for nature as a counterpoint to the somber ambiguities rendered at the earlier phase of her career.  The fluidity of lines shaping mountains and moonscapes appears rhythmic and graceful in an expansive, multi-perspective arrangement based on Song dynasty (960–1279) pictorial representation which has inspired Lalan since her childhood when her family resided on the hillside overlooking the poetic scenery of West Lake ( 西湖) in Hangzhou.

While Lalan’s acknowledgment of Song influences reflects a deliberate “Asia as method” approach to cultural transmission, the sincerity and lucidity of Lalan’s quest for an independent identity that could define the modern mind of an overseas Chinese woman artist shine vividly through her art.  From the mid-1980s until her untimely death in 1995, Lalan shared her alternate understanding of existence and consciousness beyond an interdisciplinary program of music and dance by integrating the cosmic worldview of Zhuangzi into her abstractions through the depiction of colorful energy fields radiated by the brilliant light of the French Mediterranean coast where she had kept a studio.  The network of penciled lines across constellations of blues and earth tones pay homage to Chinese calligraphy, which she has stated to be the very structure or framework of her paintings,[9] yet collectively they form a topographical survey of her streams of contemplation unfettered by geography, race, gender, or creed.  Her unabiding respect for nature and humankind’s relation to the universe enabled her to look beyond the physical and psychological boundaries that limit one’s expression in times of discord and violence, and more specifically, the superficiality of fame and fortune.[10]

The dynamism of Lalan’s artistic expression illuminates the transformative impact of Asian art and philosophy on postwar European lyrical abstraction.  While the appropriation of Asian influences by European and American artists, philosophers, and writers since the mid-nineteenth century has contributed to a vast body of experiential, process-oriented artwork and exhibitions,[11] Lalan and other overseas Chinese artists’ interpretation and reinterpretation of cultural sources native to them remain a critical component of the overall discourse on postwar art from a global perspective. For Lalan, the tranquility and harmony communicated through her paintings convey an awareness of self and by extension, a vista beyond the constructs of what is physical and material, and into the landscape of what Lalan read, saw, and imagined a true modern artist to be.



[1] Kai-Yu Hsu, “Xie Jing-Lan: ses peintures impregnées de musique, de danse et de théâtre” (manuscript, translated into French from an Chinese essay based on an interview by author with Lalan on June 26, 1981, Taipei: The Archives of Modern Chinese Art ), 34.

[2] Danielle Berthelot, “Entretiens avec Lalan” (Paris: MA thesis, Mémoire de maîtrise de chinois, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, 1982), 46.

[3] Jacqueline Robinson, Modern Dance in France: An Adventure 1920-1970, translated by Catherine Dale (Amsterdam: Overseas Publishers Association, 1997), 321, 327.

[4] Berthelot, “Entretiens avec Lalan,” 38.

[5] Jean-Pierre Martin, Henri Michaux (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2003), 471-473.

[6] Sophy Thompson and Antoine Chen Yen Fon , Lalan (Bangkok: J.M. Beurdeley, 1999), 136.

[7] Berthelot, “Entretiens avec Lalan,” 37.

[8] Kai-Yu Hsu , “Xie Jing-Lan: ses peintures impregnées de musique, de danse et de théâtre,” 29.

[9] Berthelot, “Entretiens avec Lalan,” 37.

[10] Kai-Yu Hsu , “Xie Jing-Lan: ses peintures impregnées de musique, de danse et de théâtre,”31.

[11] The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989 (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2009).


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