Zao Wu-ki (1920-2013)
I just recently learned from a scholar friend of mine in Lyon, France, that Zao Wu-ki (Zao Wuji) passed away Tuesday, April 9 at his home in Switzerland at age 93. I am saddened by the news and although I do not know a lot about him or his art, I was beginning to learn. Zao Wu-ki was a bit younger than my grandfather but he was taught by Lin Fengmian at the Hangzhou National Academy of Art where Liu taught design. Zao later studied in Paris. What impresses me most about his art is that it has influences of both Chinese and French and yet is a style all it’s own.
We were lucky enough to go to Zao’s studios during our trip to Paris and although he was no longer there, his presence was strongly felt in the paintings on every wall! We were also privileged to go up to Zao’s workroom. One wall was covered from floor to ceiling with books. You could see the paint splatters on the floor. The huge front window illuminated the wall where he would hoist huge canvases up to the ceiling. One could imagine him there, painting, doing what he loved to do.
A few weeks ago we attended a talk at the Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, by Julia Grimes. Julia is a Ph.D. candidate in Chinese modern and contemporary art history at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her dissertation examines the early artistic career of Zao Wou-ki. She has also been a great help to us in translating and educating us about the Chinese artists of my grandfather’s time.
Julia recently wrote this article listed below for CNN’s “On China” section after Zao’s passing. It’s informative and has some wonderful photos of Zao Wu-ki’s work.