Zao Wou-Ki (Zhao Wuji)
- Zao Wou-Ki (Zhao Wuji)
- signed in Chinese and Pinyin and dated 71
- ink on paper
The image of that fatal rest to me,
O night! You come towards me so dear!
Escorted by the summer clouds with glee
And by the gentle breezes full of cheer,
Or from the snowy air you come sending
That long, uneasy darkness to the world,
O summoned night, upon the earth descending,
The darkest secrets of my heart you hold.
At sight of you my mind begins to wander
To the eternal void beyond the sky;
And all along the wretched time meanders
And with it all my worries; meanwhile I
Stand looking at your peace that calms the torment
Within my raging spirit lying dormant.
- To The Night, Ugo Foscolo
According to Zao Wou-ki, after 1968 he gradually lost his vigor, and became unable to control his brush no matter how hard he tried to concentrate. During the year and a half before his wife May Zao's death, he was even unable to lift a brush altogether. Zao Wou-ki painted Untitled (Lot 1008) in 1971, while caring for the stricken May. Within a small piece of paper, he manages to create breathtakingly dynamic structures through gradations of ink tones. In spring of 1971, I.M. Pei, visiting Zao with his wife, commented, "These lines are light and ethereal, and filled with infinite details. But what is the most meaningful to me is that these ink paintings share the same language as his oil paintings despite the great technical differences between the two media." This precious ink painting at once inaugurates a new phase in Zao's career and summarises his explorations of abstract painting in the 1960's. Its compositional structure originates in his first attempts at abstraction in the late 1950's and 60's. A decade later, his centrifugal delicate brushwork still infuses his entire compositions, although the medium is now ink. The foreground remains substantive and dynamic, and the background distant and expansive.