He began exhibiting his work in 1971, referring to his early works as ‘mythical conceptual art’. In the late 1970s he turned away from conceptual art to create a new kind of figurative painting and established himself as a key member of the Transavanguardia movement in painting alongside Francesco Clemente, Mimmo Paladino and Enzo Cucchi.
Chia draws freely on the art of the past to create a style that is entirely personal, yet is enriched by the echoes of its sources; heroic figures imbued with an enigmatic sense of mission are Chia’s main protagonists as manifestations of his own identity.
His work has been the subject of numerous solo museum exhibitions around the world including Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1983); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1984); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1984, 1992); Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris (1984); the Museums of Dusseldorf (1984), Antwerp (1989), Mexico City (1989); Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence (1991); the Museums of Karlsruhe (1992), Palm Springs (1993), Villa Medici in Rome (1995); Palazzo Reale in Milan (1997), the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida (1997), the Galleria Civica of Siena (1997), the Galleria Civica in Trento (2000), the Museo d’Arte of Ravenna (2000); Palazzo Pitti and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale of Florence (2002); and the Duomo of St. Agostino in Pietrasanta (2005) and Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna of Rome (GNAM) (2010).
Chia’s work forms part of some of the world’s most important collections including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA; Tate Gallery, London, England; Art Institute of Chicago, USA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA; Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida, USA; Basel Kunstmuseum, Switzerland; Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, Japan; Setagaya Art Museum, Japan; Fukuyama Museum of Art, Japan; Utsunomiya Museum of Art, Japan; The Museum of Art, Kochi, Japan; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Groninger Museum, Netherlands; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany; Stadtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany; FAE Foundation, Musee d’Art Contemporain, Lausanne, Switzerland; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel; Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy; MART, Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy; Senato della Repubblica Italiana, Palazzo Madama, Rome, Italy.