NEW YORK, NEW YORK: The Directors of Marlborough Gallery are pleased to announce Zao Wou-Ki: Watercolor. Ink on Paper. Porcelain, an exhibition of works on paper and porcelain by the preeminent French Chinese-born artist. This exhibition will be Zao’s third show at Marlborough Gallery and the first at the gallery since his death in 2013 at the age of 93.
Zao Wou-Ki was born in Beijing in 1920 into a family whose history can be traced back to the Song period (10th–12th century.) He began his training at the age of 15 at the School of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. In 1948, he left for Paris to study modern painting, where he first encountered the paintings of Paul Klee which had a deep influence on his early work. Becoming a part of the group of painters associated with the School of Paris, in particular, Pierre Soulages, Nicolas de Staël, Alberto Giacometti and Sam Francis, Zao Wou-Ki incorporated traditional Chinese painterly practice into more colorful European abstraction. It is this amalgam of traditional Chinese and Western cultures which informs Zao Wou-Ki’s art and places it, aesthetically and formally, in a unique and important position in the history of painting.
Celebrated for his oil paintings, Zao also worked extensively in a variety of mediums, including watercolor, ink, and porcelain. The exhibition focuses on these aspects of his artistic practice, and presents 18 watercolors, 18 ink on paper works, as well a selection of painted vases and vessels in porcelain. The works on exhibit span several decades, and were created between the years 1970 and 2007. Brushstrokes—whether in color or black ink—become abstract image fields in which foreground and background are in constant flux. Each conveys an abstract visual event that is emotionally charged, turbulent in structure and striking in impact. In effect, Zao created his own nonrepresentational artistic language that transcends identifiable associations with symbols in writing and the natural world.
In 1994 Zao received Japan’s Imperial Prize for Painting, which was personally given to him by the Emperor. A 1998 retrospective of his paintings traveled to Shanghai, Beijing and Canton. In 2002 he was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Followed by this, Zao was awarded the Legion of Honor, the highest order of merit in France, by then-President Jacques Chirac in 2006. Zao primarily lived and worked in Paris from 1948 until his passing at his home in Nyon, Switzerland in 2013.
Zao Wou-Ki’s work can be found in over one hundred museums worldwide. Among them are the following: The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Fogg Art Museum, Boston, Massachusetts; Art Institute of Chicago; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montreal, Canada; Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, France; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; The Tate Gallery, London, England; Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany; Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, Austria; Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium; Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; National Institute of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; Hong Kong Museum of Art, China; Kaohsiung Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan; Taiwan Museum of Art; National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan; Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain; The Museum of Tel Aviv, Israel; Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan, Italy; Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan; Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan; National Museum of Art, Japan; Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, Mexico; Museo Tamayo de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico; Fundaçao Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal.
An illustrated catalogue will be available at the time of the exhibition.