HANGZHOU, China, Sept. 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — On September 19, 2023, the exhibition titled “The Way Is Infinite: Centennial Retrospective Exhibition of Zao Wou-Ki“, co-curated by the Art Museum of CAA and the Zao Wou-Ki Foundation, officially opened at the Art Museum of China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, as a significant cultural program under the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou, a celebration of the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism in 2024, and a key project sponsored by Zhejiang Culture and Arts Development Fund.
As Asia’s largest retrospective exhibition of Zao Wou-ki held in China and the highest standard one featuring Zao Wou-ki’s art, the exhibition, with a total exhibit of over 200 paintings and literature works (including 129 of his oil paintings), can be considered a salute to the roots of Chinese civilization by this most globally influential Chinese artist as well as a presentation of the outstanding outcome of China–France exchanges.
Zao Wou-Ki was a world-famous Chinese-French painter. Born in Beijing in 1920, Zao was admitted to the Hangzhou National College of Art (now the CAA) in 1935 and worked as an instructor at the academy after graduating in 1941. He traveled to France for further studies in 1948 and was invited by the Ministry of Culture to give lectures in his alma mater in 1985. He was elected a lifelong member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 2003, and died in Switzerland in 2013. Zao blended Chinese and Western elements to create a distinctive artistic style. With his artworks included in the collections of more than 150 major museums and art galleries worldwide, such as the Centre Pompidou in France, Tate Modern in the U.K. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the U.S., Zao has made unique contributions to cultural exchanges between the East and the West.
Zao Wou-Ki once said: “I hailed from China so I could go back to China.” Deeply rooted in Chinese culture, he maintained a close connection with his homeland and the people there throughout his life. He dedicated his life to interpreting the Chinese art spirit in modern language, as a fervent champion of creative development of Chinese traditional culture. As an art scene linking tradition and modernity organically, the exhibition embodies a leap from the former to the latter, a practice transformation of Chinese modern cultural forms through the combination of these two elements. With an aim to demonstrate the open-mindedness of Chinese culture in absorbing world civilization, the exhibition fully utilizes valuable cultural resources to strengthen intercultural communications, exchanges and integration, and jointly explore future-oriented innovations in theory and practice.
His artistic journey began in Hangzhou, a place where his artistic talent was nurtured. On the tenth anniversary of his death, his masterpieces finally returns to Hangzhou. The exhibition, divided into six sections, showcases Zao’s oil paintings, watercolors, lithographs, and porcelain paintings, and relevant visuals in the hands of Zao’s wife Françoise Marquet, prominent collectors and art institutions across the globe, including the Centre Pompidou, Le Centre national des arts plastiques, the Musée Cernuschi, National Gallery Singapore, Hong Kong Museum of Art, M+ in Hong Kong, China Art Museum, Suzhou Museum, Deji Art Museum,and Art Museum of CAA, presenting Zao’s artistic journey of different periods in every possible way. Significant works to be on show include Hangzhou-themed pieces, such as My Home in Hangzhou, and My Father’s Garden, as well as his representative works like the triptych Homage to My Friend Henri Michaux, and Homage to François, and the diptych Homage to Cézanne.
The exhibition is held between September 20, 2023 and February 20, 2024 (open to the public from September 26, 2023) at the Art Museum of China Academy of Art.
All works by Zao Wou-Ki: © Zao Wou-Ki – ProLitteris, Zurich.