The lightness of space, the harmony of colours, the pursuit of forms in space, and the collision of surfaces—these are the conflicts and fears in my heart. The emptiness of white, the tranquillity of blue, the hopeless of purple and orange. I am not afraid to grow out, nor to die. As long as I can still hold a brush and apply pigments, I have no fear at all.
- Zao Wou-ki
Zao Wou-ki's painting evolved through several stages: the narratives and reminiscences of the ancient past in the 1950's, the cursive calligraphy-inspired explosive expressionism of the 1960's, the reengagement with ink the 1970's. After 2000, he pursued a spiritual realm of purity and emptiness, and his works became increasingly serene and ethereal. In every period, Zao developed unique artistic expressions and made important breakthroughs, making him a towering figure in post-War abstract painting. Just as the Jin-dynasty poet Xie Lingyun expressed his desire to return to a state of purity through his descriptions of nature, Zao Wou-ki, through his gentle abstract landscapes, reanimated the Chinese landscape painting tradition and created new ideal spiritual abodes in the tumultuous modern age.
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