Guest Lectures: “Integration of Two Worlds: Zao Wou-Ki” by Joyce Chan

Integration of Two Worlds: Zao Wou-Ki

Speaker: Joyce Chan, Christie’s Hong Kong


French art critic Daniel Marchesseau once said that Zao Wou-Ki’s painting is the “integration of two world unique”, that is to say of a “Paris Chinese, a Chinese Chinese”. Most view Zao Wou-Ki as a Western painter who mastered oil painting, but in fact Zao is an artist with Chinese cultural background which enabled him to successfully bridge Chinese and Western aesthetics, and thus create novel abstract painting since 1950s when Western artists were dominant. This Eastern and Western cultural exchange is a two-way interaction, without subordination. In this lecture, we will first look into this interaction through Zao’s early printmaking method which is unconventional in Western art scene but closely connected to Chinese ink painting practice. The printmaking experience steered the development of Zao’s early oil painting in the 1950s.


Apart from print and oil painting, Zao also produced watercolour since the late 1940s, and then initiated his ink painting in the 1970s. Zao’s watercolour and oil painting have undergone a neck-and-neck development. Stylistically, they have also kept their forces united. In the second part of this lecture, we will look into the relationship between Zao’s watercolour/ink and his oil painting in the process of free transmigration between East and West aesthetic traditions. A focus will be drawn to how elements of traditional Chinese art influenced Zao, allowing him to develop personal style which distinguished him from other Western abstract artists. In the last part, we will share statistics about the auction market of Zao Wou-Ki’s works.


About the Speaker:
Joyce Chan is a Senior Specialist of Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art department based in Hong Kong, and the Head of Sale for Asian 20th Century Art. Joyce began her career at Christie’s Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art department in 2006 after she received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art at the University of Hong Kong. Joyce is responsible for researching, catalogue production, business-getting, client advisory and exhibition. She is the recipient of Arts Administration Scholarships (2013) supported by Hong Kong Arts Development Council for her post-graduate studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


Image © Zao Wou-Ki ProLitteris, Zurich, 2016