Shao, Lillian

Lillian Shao’s training in the great Chinese art of calligraphy began at the age of six. Instructed by her grandfather in her native country of Taiwan, she learned many of the various styles, including those of the Chin and Han dynasties, dating from the 3rd century B.C. and 4th century A.D. These early skills formed the foundation for her artistic development. The young Lillian spent much of her childhood drawing. She then started taking Chinese painting lessons. Soon the images of the female form joined her calligraphy. By the time she finished high school, the evolution toward her current style had begun. She went on to study at National Taiwan University, and after her graduation in 1973, she carried her dream of being an artist to the United States. In 1977, she received her MA from California State University, LA. Today, Ms. Shao’s work is infused with many influences, from both East and West. Her compositions include elements of Art Deco, Greek mythology, and Chinese poetry. Contemporary design and ancient art form combine to create her distinctive style. Shao is one of the more recent in a long line of artists to successfully cross over from the world of illustration. This thoroughly modern phenomenon was given a sense of legitimacy by the work of Andy Warhol, who, along with other pop artists, permanently blurred the line between commercial and “fine” art. In the nineties, more specifically, we see fashion as art and art as fashion. With the untimely death of Patrick Nagel, and the passing of Erte, Shao has become the standard bearer of this remarkably popular school of art. While Erte’s beautifully styled women were often doll-like,and Nagel’s women reflected the super polished and sleek style of the Seventies, Shao’s women have a distinct sense of depth and feeling that engages the viewer at an emotional level. She conveys not merely an image, but also a mood; one that is often mysterious and romantic. An air of grace, elegance, and mystery; a sense of the exotic; a glimpse of ephemeral beauty – this is the appeal of Lillian Shao.

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