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    Sale 7706

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sale

    12 February 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 135

    Zao Wou-Ki (b. 1921)


    Price Realised  


    Zao Wou-Ki (b. 1921)
    signed and dated 'ZAO WOU-KI 1.7.71.' (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas
    18¼x 21¾in. (46.4 x 55.2cm.)
    Painted on 1 July 1971

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    The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by the artist.
    Successfully bridging East and West, Zao Wou-Ki's paintings are a marriage between traditional Chinese landscape painting and Western abstraction. Identifying in each seemingly disparate realm, a coexistence with nature, the artist forged his art from this common point of genesis, simultaneously opening new paths for the development of Chinese painting and staking out his place in the international avant-garde in the lineage of painters such as Paul Cezanne and Paul Klee.

    In order to ensure that viewers responded directly to the meanings of his work without reference to any extraneous factors, Zao began inscribing the date of a painting's completion on its reverse side and taking it as the name of the work in 1959. At this time, he also began to limit his palette to a few hues with the effect of fiercely concentrated simplicity. With a practiced, flowing brushstroke purely his own, Zao expressed his debt to Chinese calligraphy but also to the gestural brand of painting that occupied the West. In heavily encrusted paintings, he began to layer paint with a palette knife in the tradition of Gustave Courbet and Cezanne, and scrape the excess off the canvas with the wooden handle of the brush, creating fine lines in the midst of broad brushstrokes, and enriching the textural beauty of his work. His alternately rough, intense, imposing brushwork spread across the surface like bursts of light, waves of water, expanses of sky and terrains of earth. The painter's mood was also revealed, alternatively elated, sober, and restrained. Universal nature vibrated through the outpouring of his feelings. His work embodied the great Song Dynasty saying, 'To find within the great universe one small patch of ground in which all its wonders are implied'.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    Jacques Lassaigne, Paris (acquired directly from the artist).
    A gift from the above to the present owner in 1977.

    Pre-Lot Text



    J. Leymarie, Zao Wou-Ki, Barcelona 1978, no. 406 (illustrated, p. 299).