A couple days ago, I decided that my need of art had to be appeased so I decided to take delight in modern art by discovering Zao Wou-Ki’s exhibition entitled « Space is silence » at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. I knew vaguely the artist despite his international stature and the obvious well-deserved recognition he has and I let you guess my surprise by discovering his work.
I give you a quick little background, since I’ve had time to take a closer look at his career and that made him just even more interesting.
Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013) is a painter born in China in 1920, arrived in Paris in 1945, at the time of « living art » he moved next to the studio of Giacometti, in the neighborhood of Montparnasse. According to his words, he settled there to follow the footsteps of the impressionist movement that he particularly loved at the time. He gets used to Parisian life, wins prizes and exhibits in some key galleries. He makes some crucial encounters for him, including Paul Klee who crosses his path as he stands out from the Chinese ink and slowly turns towards lyrical abstraction.
In 1956, the painting « Crossing Appearances » (Traversée des apparences in French), marks his turning point in his work where he starts exploring a more abstract style.
He dedicates a painting in tribute to Henry Michaud (18.01.1963), whom he met while exhibiting for Paul Loeb, an art gallery owner in Paris.
He also meets the composer Edgard Varèse, who will impact his work at a large level and for whom he will dedicate a painting to his tribute in 1964. The artist will have an increased sensitivity to music and poetry that will be the keystones of his inspiration .
In contact with European artists, Chinese ink gives way to an informal art and works with more active gestures.
The Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris has therefore decided to exhibit a collection of his works, mostly in large format, to pay tribute to this artist who is well worth it because the genius of his art puts him alongside the masters from whom he took the most exquisite reflections to incorporate them into his art, and to pay them homage thereafter, I think in particular of Henry Matisse (Hommage à Henri Matisse, 1986) and Claude Monet (Triptych, Hommage à Monet, 1991) and many other masters for whom he had wide admiration
According to him, « Picasso had taught him to draw like Picasso, but Cezanne had taught him to look at Chinese nature. »
His paintings are very rich, the textures are breathtaking, explosive notes and at the same time melodious in his painting in tribute to Edgard Varèse, but also dark notes in some of his achievements that reflect on more painful moments of his life, Nous Deux, 1957 which marks his separation from his first wife where we feel the influence of traditional Chinese painting, or Hommage à May, 1972 which is a tribute to his second wife, who died. He offered that collection to the state.
Zao Wou-ki is a multifaceted artist, coming from many different worlds, and this complexity is felt through his art, his versatility and exceptional vision made him one of the greatest artists of the mid-twentieth century.
To get more information on the exhibition, Click down below to be redirected to the website of MAM Paris, to get the details, including the deadline for the exhibition and the opening hours of the museum if you live in Paris or if you’re just passing through the city and need some fine art to fulfill your mind and soul.