Zao Wou-Ki reflected carefully before setting brush to paper in this masterful, eloquent work.
Zao Wou-Ki (1921-2013), Composition, 1973, watercolor, 23.5 x 25.5 cm (9.25 x 10.03 in).
A cluster of rocks, perhaps mountains, and a perspective receding into the distance can be made out in the surrounding fluidity. Everything about this 1973 watercolor, which sold for €78,740, immerses us in the pictorial world of Zao Wou-ki (1921-2013). A link between two worlds, he never leaves the viewer indifferent. His thought processes, translated into free, eloquent strokes, are fascinating. Poet, writer and critic Claude Roy described him as "A great painter who in his work draws on at least ten centuries of Chinese art, and is one of the West’s best modern painters."
The 1970s were key years in Zao's life. Encouraged by poet Henri Michaux, he rediscovered the challenging technique of Indian ink. His wife May died in March 1972. At the end of that month he went to China to visit his family, whom he had not seen since 1948. After all this, he needed a break before going back to work and painting very large formats in 1975. Meanwhile, a painting by Pierre Tal Coat (1905-1985) expressing another kind of inner world, whose incandescent red exploded on the cover of the February 19 La Gazette, sold for €49,530.