Born in Beijing, Zao Wou-ki grew up in an affluent, cultivated family from Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province. His grandfather was a scholar in the Qing Dynasty, and his father a banker. In 1935, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. After his graduation in 1941, he became an instructor at his alma mater. In 1948, he went to Paris and studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. Since then he has been living in France. Integrating the vision of Chinese traditional art with the form of Western modern painting, he created a new style of rhythm and light. He has held over 180 solo exhibitions around the world. Currently he is a tenured artist at the Galerie de France. He has been awarded with Commandeur de la Legion d’Honneur and Medaille de Vermeil of Paris. He was also selected as a permanent member of Academie des Beaux-Arts of France.
Zao Wou-ki reconsiders Chinese culture that he is familiar with. Using the atmosphere of Chinese painting to express his vision, he presents an artistic conception unseen in Western culture. Despite Zao’s paintings are abstract, the beauty of Chinese calligraphy and structure of “intended blank” are inherent in his work. The color of the piece is deep yet clear. In the atmosphere, we can see subtle variation of strokes. The painting has a stunning power of infinity and immensity. Through the technique of light “splash ink” and shading by dry brushes, he infuses the beauty of Chinese calligraphy and the spirit of Chinese landscape painting into this oil painting. Like “light purple red Chinese landscape painting,” brown and white are the key colors of the image. Infinite lines weave into a vast, blurry space. Although the piece is in the form of modern abstract painting, it expresses the profound spirit of Chinese landscape painting.
As Zao studied in France, it was the golden age of French abstract painting. He got to know the contemporary painters of abstract art movement such as Henri Hartung (1904-1989) and Pierre Soulages (1919-) and was influenced by them. After 1950, inspired by Paul Klee (1879-1940), he started gradually breaking away from narrative painting, using lines, landscapes, chrono-spatial relations and later impressions of Chinese bronze script and oracle bone script to create abstract artworks. In his early abstract paintings, he created the character-like signs that easily remind us of the bronze script found on bronze artifacts in ancient China. In the 1960s, he adopted the strokes of Caoshu (cursive script) in his paintings and created a majestic new style. Later he combined the pursuit of the spirit in Chinese painting and the Western study on time and space, blazing a new trail for modern painting. Thus he has become one of the most influential painters in contemporary art.
|English title：||Abstract Painting|
|Medium / Classification：||Oil paints and Acrylic colors|
|Life-span：||1921 - 2013|
|Collection Unit：||National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts|
|Contact method for authorization：||
Guide to the Use of Image Files and Data from the Online Collection Database
|Related Exhibition：||Unique Vision：Highlights from the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts Collection|