“Another thing I know is that I enjoy painting more and more, that I’ve got more to say, with the ever-present fear of repeating myself. I paint my own life but I also try to paint an invisible place, that of dreams, somewhere where one feels in perfect harmony, even in the midst of agitated shapes or opposing forces. Every picture, from the smallest to the biggest, is always a fragment of that dream place.” -Zao Wou-Ki
In the mid-1950s, Zao Wou-Ki discarded figurative portrayal in his compositions and shifted to the exploration of pure abstraction. He immersed himself fully in the imaginative realm in painting; as he said, he had to "breathe together" with the canvas and "connect the mind with the canvas". In his subsequent artistic career, he focused on emotional expression on the canvas, and every painting was an opening for him to reveal his feelings. In the mid- 1960s, the artist developed and refined his cursive brushwork on the canvas, instilling an immense momentum and feelings in his bold brushstrokes and sweeping colours. In the 1970s, following the deaths of his second wife and his father, Zao arrived at a new phase in his paintings. He demonstrated an increasingly adept command of oil painting techniques, and his choice of colours became brighter and more vibrant. The compositions gravitated towards the capture of space and light, which was imbued with elements of nature. His works resounded with a deeper resonance of natural landscape and a more serene ambience. This change in his art was spurred on by the arrival of his third wife, Francoise Marquet, in his life.
A work from the 1970s, 18.04.79 (Lot 311) features similar techniques as 20.09.76 (Lot 310), while it presents a totally different visual experience. In this work, the viewer could feel the artist's perfect interpretation of space and time. The composition is divided into the upper and the lower halves, with the brown tone in the lower half carrying a greater momentum than the bright yellow in the upper half. The two colours converge in the middle of the canvas, creating an ephemeral and soaring sense of motion. The wash of light red at the upper left corner recalls the rising sun amidst the surging waves. It sets the tone of abstract landscape in the painting, which echoes William Turner's expressive and vibrant seascapes.