Lot 1031
  • 1031

ZAO WOU-KI | 10.01.86

25,000,000 - 35,000,000 HKD
64,711,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Zao Wou-ki
  • 10.01.86
  • signed in Chinese and Pinyin; signed in Pinyin and dated 10.1.86 on the reverse 
  • oil on canvas
IVAM Centro Julio Gonzalez label affixed to the stretcher on the reverse 


Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva 
Acquired directly from the above by the present important private Asian collector 


Paris, Galerie Artcurial, Zao Wou-Ki, 1988
Luxembourg, Festival international d'Echternach, Zao Wou-Ki, peintures, encres de Chine, estampes, June - July 1992
Taipei, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Zao Wou-Ki Retrospective, 27 February - 30 May 1993
Saragosse, Centro de exposiciones y congresos, la Iber-Caja de Ahorros, Zao Wou-Ki, Retrospectiva, 14 March - 12 April 1995
Kaohsiung, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, A Retrospective of Zao Wou-Ki, January - April 1996
Hong Kong, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Infinite Image and Space. A retrospective of Zao Wou-Ki, 3 May - 28 July 1996
Valencia, IVAM Centro Julio Gonzalez, Zao Wou-Ki, 3 May - 1 July 2001
Paris, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Zao Wou-Ki, 14 October - 7 December 2003
Tokyo, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Ishibashi Foundation, Zao Wou-Ki, 16 October, 2004 - 16 January 2005


Claude Roy, ed., Zao Wou-Ki, Éditions Cercle d'Art, Paris, 1988 / 1992, plate 45, p, 169
Zao Wou-Ki, Galerie Artcurial, Paris, 1988, p. 31
Zao Wou-Ki, peintures, encres de Chine, estampes, Festival international d'Echternach, Luxembourg, 1992, plate 9, p. 24
Zao Wou-Ki Retrospective, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, 1993, p. 68
Zao Wou-Ki Retrospectiva, Centro de Exposiciones y Congresos, la Iber-Caja de Ahorros, Saragosse, 1995, plate 13, p. 23
A Retrospective of Zao Wou-Ki, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Art, Kaohsiung, 1995, p. 192
Infinite Image and Space. A retrospective of Zao Wou-Ki, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1996, plate 55, p. 147
Zao Wou-Ki, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2003, p. 139
Zao Wou-Ki, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Ishibashi Foundation, Tokyo, 2004, plate 47, p. 127
Jose' Fre'ches, Zao Wou-Ki : works, writings, interviews, Ediciones Poli'grafa, Barcelona / D.A.P., New York, 2007, p. 95
Dominique de Villepin, Françoise Marquet and Yann Hendgen, ed., Zao Wou-Ki. Oeuvres 1935 - 2010, Editions Flammarion, Paris, 2009-2017, p. 243

Catalogue Note

The multiple, coexisting perspectives in traditional Chinese painting reflect the influence of the aesthetics of xieyi . Take for example Guo Xi’s landscape painting Early Spring (1072). Here the painter, in order to encapsulate the infinite beauty of mountains and rivers within a limited space, presents them from multiple viewpoints—horizontal, downwards, and upwards—responding to them in a dynamic manner. The central mountain form, shrouded in mist, thus gains the “three distances” of height, depth, and level recession, each incorporating the painter’s own subjectivity. Zao Wou-Ki was vocal about his admiration for the Northern Song landscapists Fan Kuan and Guo Xi, and the verticality composition of 10.01.86 (Lot 1031) clearly responds to Early Spring. In its openness and abstractness, the former recalls the majesty of the Song monumental landscapes. The aesthetics of traditional Chinese landscape painting inheres subtly in Zao’s work, which invites the viewer into a formless, transcendental realm that is yet grounded in the experience of nature. During the 1980’s, Zao Wou-Ki reached an unencumbered state of being. Never fazed by a large blank canvas, he could summon his creative energy freely and endlessly. When he participated in exhibitions and presentations in China, he would eagerly revisit its scenic sights, whose impressions would inform and nourish his creative work.    In 1981, Zao visited Zhang Daqian’s studio, where the two painters spoke freely about art and life. Zao probably found Zhang’s “splashed-ink” and “splashed-colour” techniques resonant with his own sensibilities. All these experiences inform 10.01.86. Here the painter’s elegant and vitally energetic brushwork, cosmic vision, and channelling of the miracles of nature in his composition all serve to express his untrammelled character and proclaim his allegiance to Chinese literati’s ideals of spiritual autonomy and self-sufficiency.

As his view on life changed, Zao’s painting also transformed. The assertive force of his earlier work has now dissolved into void and mist. His passionate struggles to control space are here replaced by an easy, relaxed sensibility. The painting seems as if created by nature, betraying no sign of human manipulation. The colour and brushwork show no overt assertion of intent.  All these characteristics are related to Zao Wou-Ki’s reengagement with Chinese ink painting in 1972. The aesthetic sensibilities occasioned by the natural interactions between ink, paper, and the pliant Chinese brush carry over to his oil painting also.

In 10.01.86, Zao’s foundation in Chinese calligraphy is evident in his letting oil pigments drip freely on his canvas, creating a natural effect of slow accumulation analogous to the aesthetic concept of wulouhen, or “traces of rain seeping through the roof,” in Chinese calligraphy. The latter concept originated in a dialogue between the Tang-dynasty calligraphers Huaisu and Yan Zhenqing, and refers to the gradually-formed traces of rain seeping through a roof and into a wall.  As the modern calligrapher Shen Yinmo explains, “For rain to seep into a wall, it must first accumulate some weight by coalescing into droplets. These droplets flow slowly downwards, not in a straight line but wavering from side to side as they leave their traces on the wall. The pictures thus formed have an untrammelled feeling more than one of restraint.” From the above, it is clear that as a calligraphic aesthetics wulouhen emphasise weighty substance and wavering textures in lines. In 10.01.86, Zao applies his oil pigments in free and fluent brushwork and uses diluted off-white, light orange, and light yellow pigments to create translucent, liquid traces on the painting surface. 10.01.86 has the spiritual grandeur of a majestic landscape, but is also highly refined in its details. It invites and rewards endless wandering through its various passages.

10.01.86 has participated in nine major exhibitions of Zao Wou-Ki’s works across various cities in Europe and Asia; and it has been illustrated in full in 11 important catalogues—an impressive resume unsurpassed in Zao’s oeuvre. An enduring testament to the international recognition and celebration that Zao enjoyed in his later years, 10.01.86 is of inestimable art-historical significance.

This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné currently being prepared by Françoise Marquet and Yann Hendgen (Information provided by Fondation Zao Wou-Ki)