ZAO WOUKI, Space is silence

The first extensive exhibition of Zao Wouki’s work at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris.

Born in Beijing to a well-educated family, Zao Wouki left China for Paris on a quest to learn more about “Living Art”.

Influenced by artists such as Henri Michaux and Paul Klee, he ventured deeper into abstract art. He once wrote, “my painting has become illegible [...] I am tending towards an imaginary, indecipherable script.”

Zao favoured large-format, horizontal paintings. He introduced black and white, using these two colours to form one single colour, oscillating between shades of yellow and brown. In front of his large pieces, like the 1956 painting entitled Traversée des Apparences, you gaze as if in a trance, unable to identify how they relate to reality. His entire oeuvre is marked with poetry, music and nostalgia, perfectly epitomised in En mémoire de May (1972), painted in memory of his late second wife.

His complex work, shifting between East and West, impregnated with space and nature, is captivating in every sense of the word.

By Nicole Pradon