Lot 537
  • 537

Zao Wou-Ki (Zhao Wuji)

6,000,000 - 8,000,000 HKD
18,040,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Zao Wou-Ki (Zhao Wuji)
  • 10.12.59
  • oil on canvas
signed in pinyin and Chinese; signed in pinyin, titled and dated 10.12.59 on the reverse


Liang Art Gallery, Canada
Priate European Collection
Important Private Asian Collection

Catalogue Note

In this potent work, Zao Wou-Ki boldly uses different hues of blue to successfully create a deep continuum of space, reflecting the artist’s virility and confidence in his swift, assertive brushstrokes. With almost Zen-like concentration, Zao reduces himself into lucid stillness, and starts conveying his inner world with pure restriction on colours. Lying in front of him is no longer a mere canvas but a sea of darkness, stirred up by the clashing of white lead on cobalt blue. Every time the two colours parry each other’s blades, light emerges with the hissing and singing as the colours cut through the air, resounding the sword fight of Leto’s kins. Light beams flow from the azure sky, showing the mortals the first worldly light, the first dawn of life.

The quivering ebony lines resonate with the musicality of the artist’s heart. Zao likes to play music when he paints. The rhythms of Mozart, Bach or Varèse, all contribute to his synesthetic creation. Edgar Varèse, who has been a close friend of the artist’s since 1954, worships the liberation of music from traditional instruments and advocates the use of different objects in his pieces to generate new forms of sounds. This other-worldly sound, of grouped timbres and rhythms, becomes “organised sound” that sublimates into a whole definition of music. Varèse’s melodies successfully deconstruct the classical music tradition. Like an organism, they take on a new life of their own. With a fate destined around drama and climaxes, these musical gluttons for tensions coincide with Zao’s artistic creations in portraying the birth and explosion of the universe. The pair of friends have thrown off the burden of tradition to establish their own artistic styles, both playing a leading role on the stage of arts history.