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Celestial Chaos No. 1

Black and white with floral-like shapes closing in a semi-circle.
© 2014 Tai Xiangzhou. Courtesy of the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery.

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  • Black and white with floral-like shapes closing in a semi-circle.




Tai Xiangzhou
Chinese (born 1968)

About this artwork

A mesmerizing and sweeping composition of monochromatic ink on silk, Celestial Chaos No. 1 is among Tai Xiangzhou’s finest paintings. One of today’s leading Chinese artists, Tai is part of a generation that is working to reinvigorate tradition by embracing new ideas and techniques. Although fluent in styles of classical painting and calligraphy, he has in recent years developed an original approach that imbues traditional materials—brush, ink, paper, and silk—with a combination of highly expressive brushwork, abstraction, and monumental scale.

This painting embodies the basic ideas of Chinese cosmology, which views the world as a complete and complex organism in which the intrinsic nature of things is to move and change. Within this cyclical universe, humans are able to discern consistent patterns by observing the seasons and celestial realms, practicing dream divination, and manipulating the hexagrams of the I Ching. In this work, Tai captures that principle movement—atmospheric forces clashing and meteorites surging through mist and clouds—and organically merges the classical conception of the cosmos with his distinctively expressive style. The result is spontaneous, mysterious, but above all, beautiful.

A scholar of art history and theory, Tai has asserted that “to present landscape painting that meets modern tastes, we must start from the experience of modern society—by properly accessing the living spirit of art, researching the materials, techniques, medium, and modern time-space experience. In short, we should not only keep alive traditional art, but also the tradition of art.”


Currently Off View


Arts of Asia


Tai Xiangzhou


Celestial Chaos No. 1

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 2014


Ink on silk


139.1 × 294.6 cm (54 3/4 × 116 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Estate of Walter Aitken

Reference Number



© 2014 Tai Xiangzhou. Courtesy of the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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