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Zao Wou-Ki

September 9–October 26, 2019
976 Madison Avenue, New York

Installation view Artwork © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Rob McKeever

Works Exhibited

Zao Wou-Ki in his studio at Gaudigny, Loiret, France, summer 2006 Photo: Françoise Marquet-Zao

Zao Wou-Ki in his studio at Gaudigny, Loiret, France, summer 2006

Photo: Françoise Marquet-Zao

About

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. 
—Zao Wou-Ki

Gagosian is pleased to present a series of paintings by the Chinese-born French artist Zao Wou-Ki (1920–2013). The exhibition pays homage to the close, enduring friendship between Zao Wou-Ki and the Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei (1917–2019).

Throughout his career, Zao Wou-Ki merged Eastern and Western aesthetic traditions in his paintings, retaining technical elements of Chinese painting styles while embracing European Modernism. As a student in China, he studied ink drawings and classical Eastern painting. In Paris, where he moved in 1948, he continued exploring Impressionism and Expressionism. Inspired by Paul Klee and his appreciation of Eastern art, Zao Wou-Ki began to seriously contemplate nature in his own work, and to incorporate traditional Chinese calligraphy into his evolving artistic language.

The earliest works in this exhibition, made in 1979 and 1980, were commissioned by Pei and served as prototypes for a series of ink works that followed. The remaining seven paintings on view—in India ink on paper mounted on canvas, and from 2006—employ the same medium, with their free-flowing brushstrokes applied in a subtle yet concentrated method.

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