(ZHAO WUJI, French/Chinese, B. 1920)
signed 'Wou-Ki ZAO' in Chinese & Pinyin (lower right); signed 'ZAO Wou-Ki' in Pinyin; dated '10.7.76'; inscribed in French (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
54 x 63.5 cm. (21 1/4 x 25 in.)
Painted in 1976
Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong, China
Acquired from the above by the present owner

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

Zao Wou-ki's 1976 work 10.07.06 (Lot 101), shows the stylistic transition from his middle to late period of abstract works. The central composition is heavily built up in the lower half of the work, with no deliberate visual guidance for the view's eye. Instead of giving any visual or compositional direction, the brushwork spreads out evenly in the lower areas and creates a kind of equilibrium on the canvas. In the highly diluted oil strokes in this work, one can see the traces of Zao's experiment with ink-wash in 1971. The most noteworthy aspect of the work is the addition of a new element: blocks of black colour in the lower centre and the lower right corner. These patches of black come from Zao Wou-ki's attempt working with ink medium (Fig. 1), at the same time signify a particular stage the artist went through from 1973 to 1980. The dense structure and relatively full, smooth appearance of these black areas precludes any sense of layering, and they seem to reflect no light. These black patches echo with the sparse areas in the upper half, anchoring a steady and calm composition. The brushstrokes, interweaving with each other on the canvas, seem to have found a place of rest with no urge to seek directions in the pictorial space. Zao himself has said that from 1973, his style underwent a new transformation. He regained peace in his works, in which feelings of peace and harmony remain as a permanent presence. Different from the deliberate control as seen in his earlier abstract works, Zao achieved a state of spontaneity and calm in 10.07.06, which best summarizes his preference at that time to return to a neutral atmosphere as seen in an ink-wash painting.

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