CELEBRATING THE ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST
|Zao Wou-ki with painting - Getty Image|
|Zao Wou-ki - Suite Beauregard - 1981 - Etching|
From the age of ten Zao Wou–ki created drawings and paintings constantly. In 1935, at the age of fourteen, Zao Wou–Ki was admitted to the School of Fine Arts at Hangzhou, China. There Zao Wou – ki studied life drawing, oil painting, and also received instruction in the theories of calligraphy and western perspective. Despite the traditional teachings in accuracy and realism, Zao Wuji sought to capture the broad outlines and essence in his artwork compositions.
Zao Wou–Ki was appointed lecturer at the School of Fine Arts and in 1941 held his first art exhibition. According to Wou–Ki "To tell the truth, the [Paintings] I showed were strongly influenced by Matisse and Picasso. My harlequins recalled the ‘Blue Period´, my statue women the ‘Greek Period´." Indeed it was in the artworks of Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso that Zao Wou–Ki would find the vision he considered closest to nature. Inspired by his collection of postcards of reproduced French paintings and full page illustrations of Renoir, Modigliani, Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso artworks in American magazines, Zao Wou–ki developed his artistic approach.
In 1947, the twenty–seven year old Zao Wou–Ki decided to leave China for Paris. Zao Wou–ki and his wife, Lan–Lan, sailed from Shanghai in early 1948 and after a voyage of 36 days, arrived in Paris, France where Zao Wou–Ki spent his first afternoon at the Louvre Art Museum. Zao Wou – ki settled in a studio near that of Alberto Giacometti; took French lessons; and visited and saw everything he could in Paris. The city inspired him and Zao Wou–ki easily frequented a circle of international artists, writers and intellectuals. While in Paris, Zao Wou–ki acquainted himself with European Lyrical Abstraction, a movement of postwar French artists pursuing free–form abstract expression through painting.
In 1949, Zao Wou–ki began making art prints after learning the technique of lithography at the Atelier Desjobert. The lithograph medium delighted Zao Wou – ki ––"The idea of throwing color on a large white stone, like on China paper, pleased me…," and Zao Wou–ki´s print experiments became lithographic masterpieces. In 1950 Zao Wou–ki published his prints accompanied by poems from celebrated poet Henri Michaux in 1950.
|Zao Wou-ki - Flore et Faune - 1951 - Etching|
|Zao Wou-ki - Éloge des choses extrêmement légères - 1993 - Etching|
|Zao Wou-ki - Village en fête - Oil on canvas - 1954|
Zao Wou – ki was regarded as one of foremost Chinese Contemporary painters of the 20th century.By the end of his life Zao Wou–ki had stopped producing new artworks due to health problems. He died on April 9th, 2013 at his home in Switzerland.
"How to represent the wind? How to paint emptiness? And the light, its brightness, its purity? I did not want to reproduce but to juxtapose forms, to assemble them in order to find in them the whispering wind over still water." ~ Zao Wou–ki
Select Museum Collections:
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Guggenheim Museum, NYC
Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris
Musee des Beaux–Arts, Montreal
Art Institute of Chicago, IL
Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico
National Institute of Fine Arts, Beijing
Fundacio Joan Miro, Barcelona