Modern and contemporary arts evening sale

3205 | ZAO WOU~KI Painted in 1968 24.10.68


Author: ZAO WOU~KI 赵无极

Size: 114×161.5cm

Signed and dated: Painted in 1968

Estimate: Estimate Upon Request

Final Price: RMB 28,000,000

1969 Zao Wou-Ki / Galerie de France
1969 Retrospective Zao Wou-Ki / Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal
1969 Retrospective Zao Wou-Ki / Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec
1974 Zao Wou-Ki / P82 / La Connaissance
1975 Zao Wou-Ki - Paintings and Works on Paper & May Zao: Sculptures No. 3 / P9 / Maison de la Culture de Saint-Etienne
1978 Zao Wou-Ki / P295/ Editions Hier et Demain & Ediciones Poligrafa
1979 Zao Wou-Ki / P295/ Rizzoli International Publications
1983 Zao Wou-Ki ou se Libérer du Connu No. 24 / P24/ Musée Ingres
1986 Zao Wou-Ki / P335/ Éditions Cercle d’Art & Ediciones Poligrafa
signed in Chinese and English
1969 Zao Wou-Ki,Galerie de France,Paris
1969 Retrospective Zao Wou-Ki,Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal,Canada
1969 Retrospective Zao Wou-Ki,Musée du Québec,Canada
1969 Zao Wou-Ki,Galerie de Montréal,Canada
1975-1976 Zao Wou-Ki - Paintings and Works on Paper & May Zao: Sculptures,Maison de la Culture de Saint-Etienne,France
1980 Large Paintings by Zao Wou-Ki,Palais des Beaux-Arts,Belgium
1983 Zao Wou-Ki ou se Libérer du Connu,Musée Ingres,France
The work is to be handled and claimed in Hong Kong,China. Please contact Beijing Poly Auction Modern and Contemporary Department’s staff for further details.
Francois Cheng,in a foreward written for Zao Wou-Ki’s exhibition at the Grand Palais in 1981,remarked the artist’s achievements,“Zao Wou-Ki’s artistic destiny is more than just personal: It is closely linked to the evolution of China’s millennia-old painting tradition.... For the first time we have seen a kind of true symbiosis between the East and West,which should have occurred long ago....The things he expresses and the depths he achieves still leave us amazed.” Zao had already gained fame in European art scenes in the early ‘60s,mounting a series of solo exhibitions at museums and galleries internationally. In a letter to Zao in 1960,Alfred Manessier wrote,“You are so different in every way. Though I have never before seen the kind of scenes you paint,or the kind of light within them,I still find in them something known to me,something I recognize,and something that moves me very much…” Manessier’s comments reflect the affirmation and acceptance Zao Wou-Ki enjoyed in the international art circle. They also highlight the way in which the unique Eastern origin of Zao’s work added new depth to Abstract Expressionism.
Zao’s 24.10.68 is a classic work from this period. It was chosen for a retrospective of his work the year following its completion. Furthermore,It possesses academic value due to the important clues it provide regarding the artist’s development. After 1965,Zao Wou-Ki abandoned the thick,heavy lines and brushstrokes that characterized much of his earlier work. In 24.10.68 he introduces a much greater variety of brushwork. Urgent strokes from broad brushes spread and interweave with more finely-traced lines to produce complex layering,while burnt umber and creamy white pigments create contrasts of light and shadow. Zao uses the varying degrees of transparency of his diluted pigments,allowing traces of overlapping layers to show through,which creates depth and a rich variety of spatial effects. The broad brushstrokes that sweep up,down and across the canvas convey an intense feeling of movement and direction,while the thinner layers of pigment that spread across the background foreshadow the ink-wash style techniques that Zao would adopt as his work developed after the 1970s.
The layered transitions from the upper to lower parts evoke the way in which traditional Chinese landscape paintings interpose stretches of empty space between earth and sky. Such empty space was a highly useful device for the Chinese literati painters; as Wang Wei noted in his On Painting,“The eye is limited in scope,and what it sees cannot cover all. Thus using one small brush,I sketch the infinite vacuum,and with the clear vision of my tiny pupils,I paint a large shape.” While a landscape painting includes all of what the artist hopes to convey,it cannot include all that the eye surveys. Zao therefore makes use of narrow regions of empty space at the top and bottom borders to represent sky and earth; the gradations from darker brown tones to lighter ones,with the artist’s ability to suggest boundless space,seem to extend endlessly outward. Da Chongguang,in A Fishnet for Paintings,wrote,“Where the mountains are thick,there is depth; where the waters are still,there will be movement. In the shade of the forest,there is nowhere to apply your mind,and in the clear light beyond the mountains,what is there that the brush can paint? Emptiness is of course difficult to paint,but if you paint your solid forms clearly,then empty spaces will appear; spirit cannot be painted,but if your physical scene is convincing enough,the spiritual aspect too will emerge.” Thus,a painted scene and the feelings it generates are dependent on each other,like solid forms and empty space.
In 24.10.68,while thick,saturated blocks of colour add weight to the pictorial space,more thinly applied tones in other areas symbolize the empty spaces between sky and earth,preventing the painting’s atmosphere from becoming too oppressive or closed in. In traditional Chinese landscapes,we often see range upon range of mountains,with distant peaks in the mist,and the ancients had a saying,that “what is complex must not seem heavy,and what is dense must not seem closed in.”
The deep brown tone of 24.10.68 at times give way to layers of light gold or olive green,while traces of the splattering,flowing,and settling of Zao’s diluted pigments engender a sense of time’s passage. The exposition of this landscape-like scene,and the light that threads through it,became the artist’s means of presenting his perception of nature as a whole. In A Self-Portrait of Zao Wou-Ki,he wrote,“but then I thought of China’s ancient painters,and how they delved deeply into nature with their feelings—not just seeing its surface in some vague,casual way,but penetrating deep into its spirit,and possessing it.” Song dynasty artists sought to depict vast spaces within a small visual frame,and never adopted the kind of fixed,single-point perspective with which Western painters depicted spatial realism. Instead,they sought to express the overall sense of a natural scene; the change in the seasons; the passage of time from sunrise to sunset; or the change we experience as our gaze shifts from nearby spaces to distant ones,or from level to downward-looking perspectives. Then,as their brushstrokes spread or converge,as they laid out their compositions,they attempted to meld personal feeling and perception with the natural scene of the landscape. Zao Wou-Ki,calling upon artistic vocabulary and visual forms uniquely his own,became the inheritor of this millennia-old Chinese landscape painting tradition and its inner spirit. 24.10.68 embodies this new stage of innovation,conceptually and formally,by Zao Wou-Ki. During this period,Zao fused cultural outlook and formal elements,borrowing from both China and the West,and from tradition and modernity,to produce a singular new artistic language.