Space Forged with Colours
The movements of the universe and its landscape are abstract as well as mysterious. These are represented by abstract elements such as brushstrokes and colours, commencing a journey thorough exploration and distillation spanning multiple decades. By the time 04.10.2000 (Lot 1005) was created, Zao was confidently fluent in the abstractionist style. The lines, brushstrokes and colours display a greater sense of freedom, openness and fluidity. In particular, the colours themselves convey an evolving sense of movement, with irregular colours of black ink dispersing across the canvas, spreading towards the edges from dark to light, as if the space is expanding and morphing, evoking a sense of infinite spatial extension. The artist has always adpoted a varied approach to the expression of space. “I have always admired Cimabue and his approach to space…fauvism really surprised me. Its space was created completely by the treatment of colours…For me, cubism was even more perplexing. It deconstructed space by taking movements apart and dividing surfaces. I never knew that space can be so rich and painting can express such a multitude of dimensions. It is truly incredible,” he recalled. 04.10.2000 is just like fauvism as he interpreted it, relying heavily on the treatment of colours to represent space: while fauvism makes use of a rich palette of contrasting colours to highlight the multiple layers of space, Zao Wou-ki draws inspirations from Chinese ink painting traditions for his oil paintings, and a boundless landscaped was consequently evoked with its fluid rhythm.
Distinct from Zao’s works in the 50s and 60s, 04.10.2000 departs from the use of heavy and dramatic lines and brushstrokes. With large areas of colours as the leading elements, it makes use of colours that are lighter, more illuminating, richer and more fluid. Some of the ink colours possess a silk-like nimbleness, fusing together bright yellow colours, as if they are rays of morning sunshine or billowing waves and translucent mist. Like the five shades of ink colours in Chinese painting, the colours on the oil painting display the gradual variations of fading and rendering effects of Chinese ink, reminding the view the subtle variations in the Mi Fei’s clouds and mountains and the bold “xieyi” expressiveness in Xu Wei’s ink paintings. Using the format of Chinese ink painting as a reference, the form Zao created with a rich palette of colours unlocks the expressive power of his art, transforming space into an illuminating, translucent domain of the mind. Heavily influenced by the spirit of Chinese art, Zao had always placed a strong emphasis on conveying the noble spirit of space when it comes to the expression of space and abstractionism. This is the most important distinction between his art and other European as well as American abstractionist art.