Lot 1002
  • 1002

Zao Wou-Ki (Zhao Wuji)

6,000,000 - 10,000,000 HKD
9,700,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Zao Wou-Ki (Zhao Wuji)
  • Château - 07.52-05.06.55
  • signed in Pinyin and Chinese; signed in Pinyin, titled and dated 1952 - 1955 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 54 by 65.5 cm; 21 1/4  by 26 in.


Private European Collection
Galerie 1900 - 2000, Paris
Important Private Asian Collection


Dominique de Villepin, Françoise Marquet and Yann Hendgen, ed., Zao Wou-Ki 1935 - 2008, Kwai Fung Art Publishing House, Hong Kong, 2010, p. 97

Catalogue Note

Abstractionism and the Two-Dimensional Flat Plane
The years around 1955 give clues to this significant transition in the artist’s style. Castles in particular captures this subtle evolution. The painting was created over the years of 1952 to 1955, drawing the artist’s repeated labours, and spans two significant periods of the artists career: the still life and the oracle bone period. It is one of the rare pieces that contains both the linear elements of landscape painting as well as oracle bone script. Wielding line and colour to represent objects, the use of line in Château - 07.52-05.06.55  (Lot 1002) leans more toward the abstract, the architecture of the landscape simplified into thin lines, appearing more independent and free, their movements and undulations gathering and then diffusing across the canvas like the structure of the oracle bone characters, guiding the canvas. The variation in the lines conjures a revolutionary representation of space. Spatial representation was a subject constantly interrogated by Zao in the 1950s. At that time, the artist visited the halls of galleries and exhibits every day. He said, “I’ve always admired Cimabue and his management of space… And Fauvism was a big surprise to me! Its space is completely created by colour… Yet Cubism further shocked me, its splitting, its breaking up of surfaces, its deconstruction of space. I never realized space could be so multi-dimensional. It was unbelievable.” Château - 07.52-05.06.55 is undoubtedly the inspired result of many years of deliberation and refinement. An examination of the lines reveals how the arrangement of their density and rhythm lead the viewer’s eyes around the entire piece. Further, the changing hues and gradations of colour seep in and out like mist rolling through mountains until they meet the brilliant light cascading upon the scene, erupting like the morning sun. This arrangement rejects three-dimensionality while emphasizing the infinite variation existing within the visual experience and aestheticism of a plane surface, exhibiting one of the most important characteristics of abstractionism. Château - 07.52-05.06.55, completed in 1955, with its strong flat plane surface, clearly indicates along with Nature morte sur une table ronde that the artist at that time was already taking giant steps toward abstractionism and the form of his oracle bone script, rapidly charging toward what he would call “the start of an irreversible new stage.”