PARIS – Pierre Soulages and Zao Wou-Ki moved strategically across a canvas like the players of a board game. Their arms straightened and bent as they shifted the black and white stones in a movement similar to that of a paintbrush. Their signature gestural style can be seen in the backgrounds of Zao’s 28.10.65 and Soulage’s Peinture 46 x 38 cm, 14 mai 1961, both covered with magnificent and indecipherable calligraphy of nuanced black and brown strokes that lose themselves somewhere between East and West.


WORKS BY ZAO WOU-KI AND PIERRE SOULAGES SHARE THE SAME ELEMENTS OF GESTURAL ABSTRACTION.

Soulages and Zao met in France in the mid-1940s. They shared in the ambition of creating the Lyrical Abstraction movement and the stateless feeling that characterised the Paris School’s essence. Soulages arrived from Rodez, Zao from China. Very quickly, their research found common ground in gestural painting, and they were often seen together in the galleries of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

In May 1957, Zao presented his first solo show at the Galerie de France. Then dedicated to non-figurative painting, the Galerie also represented Soulages and Hans Hartung. It was with Soulages’s support that Zao was able to leave for New York in 1957 and mingle with the postwar American avant-garde. At the beginning of the 1960s, their respective works were recognised, and their exhibitions multiplied across the world.


ZAO WOU-KI’S 28.10.65, 1965. TO BE OFFERED IN SOTHEBY’S PARIS CONTEMPORARY ART SALE ON 9-10 DECEMBER.

After the Cubist Epoch, Soulages and Zao travelled together to the United States in 1957 and visited museums from Washington to San Francisco. Later, they travelled to Hawaii in search of Primitivism, spending ten days in the midst of palm trees and pineapple plantations. Finally, the pair ventured to Asia: Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara in 1958, where they encountered traditional and avant-garde Japanese calligraphers. While Zao settled in Hong Kong where he met his second wife, Soulages continued his travels to India.


PIERRE SOULAGES’S PEINTURE 46 X 38 CM, 14 MAI 1961, 1961. TO BE OFFERED IN SOTHEBY’S PARIS
CONTEMPORARY ART SALE ON 9-10 DECEMBER.

These two masterful works, which will be offered in Sotheby’s Paris Contemporary Art sale, represent the fruit of the artists’ shared passion for gestural abstraction and convey their rich personal history of dialogues, trips and experiences.

Art Contemporain

09 December 2015 - 10 December 2015 | Paris