Unlike other works from this period, which tend towards gloomy and restrained palettes, this painting features bold use of colour, corresponding to its title, which Zao inscribed on the back of the canvas in French: "Quand Il Fait Beau", or "when it is sunny". The dots and crosses of bright, magnificent colours resemble the brilliant scatterings of sunlight on a clear, bright day, and the layers of gold-yellow paint fill the viewer with irresistible inspiration, lending the tableau an extraordinarily magnificent visual appeal. Quand il fait beau is an early work from Zao's Oracle Bone series, and his lines retain the calligraphic rhythms that were always a central element of his style, but the forms expressed on this canvas are no longer imitations of Klee's work or emulations of other Western styles. Rather, they resemble pictographic characters with abstract elements, harking back to the cosmic perspective and creative concepts of the origins of Chinese culture. Zao Wou-Ki did not stop at appropriating the forms of traditional Chinese writing; he also adapted their aesthetics and implications into a new and richly modern abstract vocabulary. This distinctive artistic expression allowed Zao to stand out amidst the crowd of Western artists who were also inspired by Chinese calligraphy. In Quand il fait beau, Zao reinterprets the rudimentary and mystical oracle-bone script, infusing it with a touch of clever wit in a style that recalls the metaphoric and humorous expressive technique of the Surrealist master Joan Miró. Indeed, according to documentary records, the two artists became friends in the 1950s, and so the correspondence between their creative innovations is not completely coincidental.
Zao Wou-Ki was also an accomplished musician, and he often listened to music while painting. Quand il fait beau is rich in musical texture, and, in keeping with the artist's Klee period, the painting lacks a singular focal point. Forms resembling musical notes stretch and flow outwards in space, rising and falling in rhythms on the canvas like a carefree melody that expresses the artist's positive mood during its composition. Zao uses colour, harmony, and the distribution of his symbols to explore the sensory possibilities of painting beyond the visual. In this way he stimulates the viewer's imagination, as described by the Chinese-French author François Cheng: "When Zao Wou-Ki paints, in addition to assembling and intertwining various elements, he also leaves room to breathe in a few latent areas of the canvas. Outlined in fine brushstrokes and skilful lines, he shows the viewer where, amid one hundred competing sounds, one might hear the clear cry of a single string or a solitary horn." Though the title Quand il fait beau contains a clear narrative element, the meaning suggested by the canvas goes beyond a purely figurative understanding. Its creative combination of painting, poetry, and music is exemplary of the artist's work from this period, making it an outstanding and representative choice for any collector of Zao Wou-Ki's Oracle Bone series.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale