Exposition Art Blog: Zao Wou-Ki

Zao Wou-Ki

Zao Wou-Ki (1920 – 2013) was a Chinese-French painter. He was a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.Zao Wou-Ki graduated from the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, where he studied under Fang Ganmin and Wu Dayu. Zao was born in Beijing with family roots in Dantu, Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province. In his childhood he was brought back to his hometown Dantu where he studied calligraphy. From 1935 to 1941, he studied painting at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, where he was taught by Lin Fengmian, Fang Ganmin and Wu Dayu. In 1948, he went with his wife Lan-lan, a composer, to Paris to live on the same block in Montparnasse where the classes of Émile Othon Friesz took place. His earliest exhibitions in France were met with praise from Joan Miró and Picasso.
"Working at the intersection of several different worlds, Zao left China for Paris in 1948, just as the domain of "living art" was beginning to be divided between France and the United States. His oeuvre traverses the aesthetic debates that accompanied the development of modern art, and while part of a rewarding Paris scene, he was very quick to spot the vitality of American painting; in addition he was gradually returning to certain aspects of Chinese painting that he had previously severed contact with.No lover of the term "landscape", Zao preferred to speak of "nature". His relationships with the outside world were born of travel, discovery and fruitful encounters, the first of which were with Henri Michaux and composer Edgar Varèse. Poetry and music were for him two enduring poles of attraction, providing a kind of tension with his painting and, as his art grew more assured, giving meaning to the declaration he inspired from Michaux early in their friendship: Space is silence.Emphasising the universal scope of Zao's art and his place alongside the true greats of the second half of the 20th century, the Musée d'Art Moderne is presenting 40 very large works, some of which – a group of inks from 2006, for example – have never been shown before."(paris.fr)

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