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Zao Wou-Ki Memorandum

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Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013), a French painter of Chinese origin who was born in Beijing, passed away in Switzerland on April 9th, 2013. He was educated at the Hangzhou Academy, where he later thought as a young man. He was no fan of the Chinese pictorial tradition, which he thought had become stuck in its own conventions. He started instead to appreciate the individualistic theory of Shi Tao, who envisioned painting as the expression of the thoughts and feelings of its creator.

In 1948 Zao went ot France with the intention of stydying the Western masters and then returning to China. But the political climate changed in China and he never returned and became a French citizen in 1964.

His art has been branded as “abstract” and “decorative”, but still continued his own process of individuation. In 1988 his work was exhibited in China for the first time and appreciated as an overseas Chinese artist. During the 1990’s his art gave a boost in prices over his strong contribution to modern Chinese culture.

During the last 2-3 years his art has appreciated to record levels at auction houses in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China so we feel sad that his passing has ended a brilliant career but at the same time increased the appreciation for Modern Chinese painting that will influence a new generation of Chinese painters following his theme.

Daniel Brostrom