signed in Chinese; signed 'ZAO' (lower right)
watercolour on paper
66 x 101.5 cm. (26 x 40 in.)
Painted in 2007
Private Collection, Europe (acquired directly from the artist by the present owner).

The authenticity of the artwork has been confirmed by the Zao Wou-Ki Foundation.
Francoise Marquet, Sylvain Amic, Yin Fu & Isabelle Klinka-Ballesteros, Zao Wou-Ki dans l'ultime bonheur de peindre, 2000-2010, Editions Albin Michel, Paris, France, 2012 (illustrated, p. 94)
La Hulpe, Belgium, Fondation Folon, Zao Wou-Ki – Entre ciel et terre. Aquarelles et encres de Chine, 2009-2010

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Lot Essay

In this auction, there are four works on paper by Zao Wou- Ki from different periods, showcasing the artist's diverse expressions created with lines, and each line is leading to a world of bountiful possibilities.

Created in the early 1950s, Untitled (Lot 26) was inspired by Zao's numerous visits to European churches and cathedrals. Speckled but relaxed and playful brushwork is used to depict the human figure and landscape with meticulous strokes and lines. The human figure on the left appears to be gazing casually towards the far off mountains. A three-layered spatial structure is neatly created by the artist with the human figure, forest, and far off mountains, forming a foreground, middleground, and background, turning the script-like lines into pictorial symbols, with the lines' aesthetic autonomy enhanced. The human figure is blended into the painting's microcosm, fully reflecting the view in Eastern philosophy of being one with nature.

Zao thought of space as something that is unstill, and in order to use "feeling to convey representation", in contrast, bold touch of solid colours, and expanded area of colour application need to be meticulously considered when creating a space in a painting. Untitled (Lot 27) is an ink painting from Zao's Oracle Bone Period. The intricate bone oracle symbols in the painting express Zao's solid calligraphy background, with intertwined, fragmented, adjoined, leaping lines accompanied by wellbalanced ink of various depths of shade. Spurring movements in the surrounding horizontally arranged lines, a persistently changing dynamic fills the entire composition. Horizontal strokes of bright blue form the watercolour backdrop of Untitled (Lot 25), with Zao's pursuit for movements of light and shadow with the use of simple colours and multi-layered variations showcased by the freely dispersed washes. The intricately layered ink lines in the middle project a radiating dynamic energy with a complex and overlap sense of constructed space. Both of these artworks present the artist's exceptional ability to use lines fluently, with lively and diverse textures expressed.

Created in 2007, Untitled (Lot 28) depicts a lakeside view with gentle zephyrs and willow trees. The main colour scheme consisting of green, blue, yellow, and brown is bright but natural. Light green in the same colour group is used by the artist in slanted strokes with crinkling effects to depict gently swaying leaves and the breeze swept by the water, with the depth of field arranged in a hearty and brisk manner. The painting reflects the figures of winds and clouds in Chinese landscape paintings while using Western watercolour's translucent luminosity. It also presents beauty by using an East-meets-West connoisseurship.

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