Throughout the world, ZAO Wou-Ki has been acknowledged as one of the greatest contemporary painters. Born in Peking in 1920, he became a naturalized Frenchman in 1964. He died in Nyon, in the Vaud Canton (Switzerland) in 2013, aged 93.
For this first retrospective in Switzerland, and with the invaluable cooperation of the Zao Wou-Ki Foundation, the Pierre Gianadda Foundation presents some fifty oil paintings together with about thirty works on paper, including an exceptional gathering of large formats, diptychs and triptychs, enhancing the monumental dimensions of these works.
The exhibition invites to follow the various stages of the painter’s chromatic and radiant practice during the sixty years of his career,along his personal path through the rich and inspired journey of his art.
After an initial figurative period, motivating him in his desire to discover France in 1948 (portraits, still life and reinvented landscapes), Zao Wou-Ki takes over and makes his own an entirely initiatory approach of Western art influenced by Paul Klee. In the 60’s and 70’s he starts, with a great strength and precision of the hand, to develop large abstract compositions in a freed lyric space : so many pregnant works as a prelude to the ambitious brushed formats of the 80’s, up to his ultimate works punctuating the turn of the century.
As a counterpoint to this selection of very large symbolic oil paintings, a wide selection, willingly limited to black and white, of wash drawings on paper, highlights his former praxis of Indian ink. This section enhances, if it were needed, the imaginary bridge that the artist powerfully built during over fifty years between Asia and the West.
The works come from private collections in Europe and in Asia.
The CURATOR is Daniel Marchesseau, honorary heritage curator.
To accompany the exhibition there is a CATALOGUE containing new images, edited by Daniel Marchesseau. It is a collection of important articles by two French writers of Chinese origin – François Cheng of the French Academy and Gao Xingjian, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000; as well as Yann Hendgen, artistic director of the Zao Wou-Ki Foundation, Pierre Schneider, writer and art historian, the artist Sam Szafran and the former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin.