There has been a ‘Zao Wou-Ki fever’ in the past year and his paintings were often sold at extraordinary prices. The Paris auction week is taking place next week and it’s not a bad idea to seize this opportunity to take a look in person at Zao Wou-Ki’s masterpieces at his L'espace est silence exhibition in Paris. This is the biggest exhibition for the abstract master in Paris since his last retrospective in France in 2003, showcasing 40 of his paintings, some of which are shown to the public for the first time.
At the exhibition, you will find 40 paintings by Zao Wou-Ki from the 50s to the early 21st century. Many of the masterpieces come from museums in France, Germany and Japan, some of them from private collections. This exhibition would be a reminder to us of all the different creative stages Zao Wou-Ki went through in his lifetime.
Traversée des apparences｜1956
Zao Wou-Ki taught at the Hangzhou School of Fine Arts for 5 years before relocating to Paris with his wife in 1948. He became a ‘full-time’ artist and his paintings began to shift towards abstraction. In the 50s, Zao was deeply interested in Shang-dynasty oracle bone script – the earliest known form of Chinese writing. So, he created works featuring simple figures evocative of petroglyphs, expressing his interest in capturing the fundamental essence of forms.
Taken in 1967, Zao and his paintings 29.09.64 and 21.09.64
Zao first traveled to New York in 1957 and encountered the works of Abstract Expressionist painters like Paul Klee. In response, Zao began to develop a bolder style working with bigger canvases. Starting from 1959, Zao was no longer naming his works, but instead titled them with the date of their completion as a way to avoid ascribing overt visual associations.
In the 1960s, Zao began to move away from the detail-heavy style that characterised his oracle-bone period towards a bolder, more energetic mode of painting. In 1971, he returned to the brush-and-ink technique in which he was trained in China, but hadn’t been particularly fond of. His works then reflected their sources in Chinese traditions but also his conceptual roots in Western abstraction.
Hommage à Claude Monet｜1991
Demand for Zao’s work was strong throughout the years but really took off in the Asian market in the 1970s and 1980, towards his late years. A perfect example of his paintings from this period is Hommage à Claude Monet (above).
Hommage à Matisse｜1986
The exhibition opened last week at the Musée d’Art Moderne and is open until January next year.
Zao Wou-Ki: L'espace est silence
Exhibition：2018/6/1 - 2019/1/6
Venue：The Musée d’Art Moderne
Persons under the age of 18, people with dissabilities, Paris civil servants｜free admission
The Musée d’Art Moderne
Address：11 avenue du Président Wilson 75116 Paris
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday to Sunday｜10am - 6pm
Thursday｜10am - 10pm
Enquiries: +33 1 53 67 40 00