Zao Wou-Ki 趙無極 25.09.60
35,000,000 - 45,000,000 HKD
Property From an Important Private Asian Collection
1920 - 2013
oil on canvas
signed Wou-Ki in Chinese and Zao in Pinyin (lower right); signed Zao Wou-Ki in Pinyin, titled and dated 25.9.60 on the reverse
executed in 1960
130 by 162 cm; 51 ⅛ by 63 ¾ in.
Kootz Gallery label affixed to the stretcher on the reverse
This work will be included in the artist's forthcoming catalogue raisonné prepared by Françoise Marquet and Yann Hendgen (Information provided by Foundation Zao Wou-Ki)
1920 - 2013
ZAO WOU-Ki 25.9.60（畫背）
130 x 162 cm; 51 ⅛ x 63 ¾ in.
This work is in good overall condition as viewed. The surface is coated with a layer of varnish.
Upon close inspection, there are signs of abrasion and wear at the extreme edges and corners. There is evidence of fine hairline craquelure on the surface, notably at the black painted areas in the center and center right.
There are pinpoint paint losses at the middle of top edge and near the top right corner, lower left below the white painted area, lower right below the signature, and near the bottom edge near the signature.
Examination under ultraviolet light reveals signs of inpainting along the cracks in the center and center right, and signs of retouching at the top right corner (3 cm) and bottom left edge (approx. 10cm). Framed.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Kootz Gallery, New York
Private Collection (acquired directly from the above circa 1962 and sold: Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 5 October 2014, Lot 1015)
Important Private Asian Collection (acquired directly from the above sale)
The 1960s were a golden era that witnessed the launch of Zao Wou-Ki’s new Hurricane Period, but the decade also represented a crucial turning point in his exploration of space. During the time he spent in the United States, he was deeply influenced by American Abstract Expressionism. He began to transcend the limitations of two-dimensional painting and create three-dimensional visions through the structure and framing of the image. 25.09.60, offered at Mapping Modernities, a curated Modern Art sale that charts the trajectories of artists who both physically and artistically traversed the globe throughout the 20th century, is an excellent example of this breakthrough. The composition of this work represents the artist’s explorations of structure and space from this period. 25.09.60 has a tripartite horizontal composition, with powerful, inky thunderbolts dashing from left to right through and across the amber-hued background. The black, white, and grey lines in the middle of 25.09.60 seem to mingle and vibrate in a quiet, sublime way. It is as if they are being pushed by a palette knife into negative space, like a black hole in the universe; they guide the eye down a winding path into the depths, giving the image a physical volume and texture that transcend reality and point to a philosophical, abstract space. Zao once said, “My brush moves freely, and sometimes I use a palette knife to press the paint onto the canvas, as if I wanted the paint to penetrate the space. Amidst chaotic colour and layered brushstrokes, I am calm and at ease… The fierce and intense, the clamorous and passionate have always attracted me much more than the quiet and the stationary. How to conquer space, how to shape and enliven it is a problem that is constantly on my mind.Every day is a new fight, which allows me to highlight my strengths and my needs.” Zao’s use of a palette knife to press the paint into the canvas faintly echoes the work of Lucio Fontana, the master of Spatialism who used a knife to cut into the calm of the canvas to create a new and previously unknown spatial depth.
The colour philosophy of 25.09.60 reflects the breadth and profundity of Eastern culture and represents Zao Wou-Ki’s combination of Western oil painting and Eastern aesthetic doctrine. The deep amber colour that dominates the painting embodies the rough, ever-changing quality of post-war art, and also represents earth and wood in the Eastern conception of the five elements (wuxing). In The Great Meaning of the Five Elements (Wuxing Dayi), Sui dynasty scholar Xiao Ji quoted The Bud of the Original Mandate in the Spring and Autumn Annals (Chunqiu yuanming bao), writing, “Earth is related to something that is spit out. There is qi in the earth, which allows for new life to emerge from it.” Thus, earth nurtures all living things. With regard to wood, Xiao Ji also quoted The Bud of the Original Mandate, writing, “Wood is related to touch, because wood grows from its contact with the ground.” Thus, wood represents the vitality of all living things. Zao Wou-Ki pursues the essence of life in 25.09.60, building a natural order that permeates his aesthetic. An audacious Eastern style saturates the entire cycle, from the initial chaos of the universe to the differentiation of living things based on the five elements to their proliferation on the earth. Zao engages with the juxtaposition, collision, and even perfect fusion of Eastern and Western cultures, in order to achieve an all-encompassing vision that draws on the best of both worlds.
《25.09.60》的色彩哲學亦展現了東方文化之博大精深，是趙無極結合西方油彩的運用並回顧東方美學教義的代表，主導畫面濃郁的琥珀色帶有戰後藝術粗曠和滄桑的氣息，同時對應東方「五行」學說中的「土」與「木」元素，隋朝學士蕭吉在其著論《五行大義》中引《春秋元命苞》云：「土之為言吐也。 含吐氣精，以生於物」，「土」是指「孕育」萬物之意；「木」，蕭吉引《元命苞》曰：「木者，觸也。 觸地而生」，代表萬物始出之「生機」。由此可見，趙無極在《25.09.60》中追尋生命的要義，建立穿透美學的自然秩序：由最初宇宙混沌，到依據五行的萬物分化，萬物生靈的生生之意毫無遮掩地顯現於東方氣韻中，將東西文化並置、碰撞、乃至完美融合，而最終達到包羅萬象，博取眾長之境界。