Rectangle, Richard Tsao

February 13, 2024 – March 29, 2024
Art Projects International, 434 Greenwich Street, Ground Floor New York, New York, 10013

Installation view of RICHARD TSAO: Rectangle at Art Projects International, New York, 2024.

Installation view of RICHARD TSAO: Rectangle at Art Projects International, New York, 2024.

The small, square format of Tsao’s paintings somehow remove them from the realm of traditional painting. They are more like objects constructed with layers of paint… He is unafraid to make works of exceptional beauty, but he also has managed to instill in them a sense of his own identity. Richard Tsao has found a way to make abstract painting fresh again.
Jane Farver, Richard Tsao Paintings, exhibition catalogue, 1997.

Art Projects International is pleased to present Rectangle, the first exhibition dedicated to Richard Tsao’s intimate and exquisite works on paper from the 1990s. The exhibition brings together 21 works from Tsao’s Rectangle series, lushly layered abstract works on paper that are closely linked to his singular “flood room” painting series and provides an opportunity to understand his artistic development.

Created in the winter of 1996, a year after his breakout first solo museum exhibition in New York at the Queens Museum in 1995, these works on paper are the earliest works from Richard Tsao’s extensive explorations with works on paper engaging his widely varied and inventive techniques resulting from his highly individual aesthetic. These small works on paper present a more playful and freely experimental Tsao and offer a glimpse into a critical period in the artist’s career that coincided with his prolific output and the development of his “flood room” paintings. Two rarely seen flood room paintings that were part of his recent solo museum exhibition “Richard Tsao: Constant Gardener” at MoCA Westport in 2023 will also accompany the show.

A long-time resident of New York, Thai-born Richard Tsao is celebrated for his well-known “flood room” paintings created by pooling and flowing pigments in his specially-designed unorthodox studio. Gregory Galligan best describes the spirit of this unique flood room studio: “The Flood Room’s physically and emotionally humid atmosphere derives from the congested soi, the backstreets of Bangkok that often flood during the sweltering monsoon season.” These vibrantly colored, multi-layered paintings evoke the lush nature of his native Thailand and are inspired by his memories of growing up in Bangkok.

The 1990s were an active period for Tsao as an artist in New York with his works appearing in numerous exhibitions in New York, including key downtown exhibition spaces such as the Artists Space, Art in General, and Wynn Kramarsky’s 560 Broadway, as well as his first solo museum exhibition in New York at the Queens Museum (1995) that was favorably reviewed by Holland Cotter in the New York Times. Since the mid-1990s, Tsao has shown extensively in the United States and Asia. His recent solo exhibitions include: Richard Tsao: Constant Gardener at MoCA Westport, CT (2023); Richard Tsao: Green Acres, Art Projects International, New York (2021); Richard Tsao: Monotypes, Art Projects International, New York (2020). Tsao’s works on paper from the Kramarsky Collection entered the permanent collections of the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC, and Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts Foundation Collection, Little Rock, AR. In 2004 his works on paper were part of the group exhibition Cool and Collected ’04 at the Weatherspoon Art Museum.