Richard Tsao: Monotypes

When 23 Nov 2020 - 30 Jan 2021
Where Art Projects International
434 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
United States

Works from Richard Tsao: Monotypes can be viewed by appointment at:  Art Projects International, 434 Greenwich Street, Ground Floor (at Vestry St in Tribeca). To arrange your visit, please contact 212-343-2599 or

Art Projects International is pleased to present an important survey of monotypes by Richard Tsao. The online exhibition includes 35 works selected from five series of monotypes — Rectangle, Round, Spaceship, CP and River — created from 1996 to 2007. The exhibition marks the first time these monotypes are seen together as a group and explores Tsao’s widely varied and inventive techniques resulting from his highly individual aesthetic.

Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, Tsao has been living and working in New York City since 1976. He began experimenting with monotypes in the mid-1990s, soon after his first New York solo exhibition “Paintings and Works on Paper” (curated by Jane Farver and Christina Yang) was held in 1995 at the Queens Museum (Bulova), New York. Describing the work as “chromatically opulent, process-intensive abstraction,” Holland Cotter wrote in the New York Times: “The 16 paintings, all small in scale, are produced by adding thinned-down coats of color one on top of the other, with much of the history of the layering left visible. Sheets of vermillion drip down over pea green or lavender; with a swipe of a cloth or a trowel, linear patterns and mottling come into play …. Mr. Tsao’s work, with its subtle glazing, its balance of accident and deliberation and its abstract forms variously suggesting extraterrestrial landscapes, mists and flames ….”

For more than a decade, Tsao experimented with monotypes, a style of printmaking that typically produces one impression. Unlike his paintings that takes years in making, the immediate form of printmaking provided the artist with opportunities for intimate and focused explorations. The works on paper on view offer a rare window into Tsao’s intense experimentations that coincided with the development of his well-known “flood room” paintings and give insights into one of the most prolific periods in the artist’s career.

Created in the winter of 1996, Rectangle series monotypes are earliest works in the exhibition. These lushly layered abstract works are closely linked to Tsao’s signature vibrantly colored multi-layered “flood room” paintings that evoke the lush nature of his native Thailand. Those familiar with Tsao’s color saturated paintings will recognize his unrestrained use of color in Rectangle works and feel enlivened by the luminosity of the accumulated colors.

Widely shown and written about when they were introduced in the late 1990s, Round series monotypes are circles, discs of color, which do not seem fixed in the physical world. These superb monotypes take full advantage of the possibilities of transferring an oil painting onto paper. As the artist explains, Round was inspired by Tang Dynasty Chinese bronze mirrors: “My darker Round were very much inspired by this infinite space … and I would roll many, many, many layers of oil paint on the plate to create similar infinite space in Round.

In Spaceship, dark and bright blocks of bleeding color are applied over and against linear patterns of orchids. Tsao uses the press as a tool, like a brush for painting, to create studied variations on a theme.

In his CP series, Tsao saturates paper with purples, reds and other rich hues in a multistep monotype process. Found items from nature, such as leaves, provide a starting point to create bold silhouettes or barely discernible vegetal forms. Captured on paper, in dramatic inter-plays of contrasting values and bold color, pigment seems yet in dynamic motion.

Although a long-time resident of New York, Tsao continues to be inspired by his memories of growing up in Bangkok. River, like his flood room paintings, emphasizes association with water “which was plentiful in Thailand, especially from the monsoon rain which often leads to long months of floods.”

Richard Tsao (b. 1954, Bangkok, Thailand. Lives and works in New York) is well known for using a process oriented, labor intensive approach and particular aesthetic of beauty in creating his paintings and works on paper. In his signature paintings (multi-layered works created in his specially designed paint flood room), the physicality of brilliantly colored paint also becomes architecture; in contrast, his works on paper are the distillation of the spirit of color. Recent solo exhibitions include: Richard Tsao: Works from Industry City, Art Projects International, New York (2014); Richard Tsao: Nam Wan, Art Projects International, New York (2010); Richard Tsao: Flooding, Art Link, Seoul, Korea (2008); Flood, Chambers Fine Art, New York (2005); Portraits, 100 Tonson Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand (2004). His work is represented in major collections including the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection, and Montefiore Fine Art Collection, New York.

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Image courtesy of the event organizer.