From 1932 to 1939, Chao studied at Henan Normal School followed by the Hangzhou National Academy of Art where he was awarded 16 prizes. Chao's early work has been collected by his teachers Lin Fengmian and Teng Gu. In 1939, his works were exhibited in the first National Art Exhibition where he won a prize in watercolor. In 1956, Chao received a scholarship to Spain where he later became a permanent member of the National Art Association of Spain. He moved to USA in 1958 and devoted the next three decades to exploring and developing his own artistic style. While living in USA, Chao met his American contemporaries such as Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) and Mark Rothko (1903-1970). In 1965, he held a solo exhibition and lecture at the Guggenheim Museum. In 1980, he returned to Taipei for a solo exhibition and 4 years later, decided to establish an art studio there. From 1984 to his death in 1991, Chao traveled frequently between New York, Taipei, China and Hong Kong in his search for artistic fulfillment.