Article
Friendship & Reconciliation - Zao Wou-Ki
March 20, 2020

Villepin, the latest addition to Hong Kong’s art gallery scene, opens its doors with an exhibition of work by the late artist Zao Wou-Ki, the Chinese painter most celebrated for his embrace of Eastern and Western artistic traditions. Titled ‘Friendship and Reconciliation’, the exhibition aims to address not only Zao Wou-Ki’s creative resolution of disparate cultures and painterly styles but also the friendships he formed with fellow artists and collectors throughout the course of his career – friendship being a core value that stands at the heart of Arthur and Dominique de Villepin’s new gallery. The exhibition also marks the centennial anniversary of the artist’s birth.

Through rare works from the 1940s to the early 2000s, including a selection of large-scale oil paintings, watercolours, Chinese inks and lithographs, the exhibition will tell the story of Zao Wou-Ki’s life and the evolution of his practice, from his background as a drawing instructor in Mainland China and early figurative tendencies to an iconic mid-century painter known for his abstract and gestural works.  

Through his use of bold lines and swirls of highly saturated colors, combined with elements of Chinese calligraphy, Zao Wou-Ki's paintings mark an exemplary reconciliation between Chinese and Western aesthetics, in which the language of modern abstraction is enriched by Asian traditions deeply rooted in the past. 

Paying tribute to the late artist, the exhibition is housed in a three-story building reminiscent of the quintessential French maison and occupies nearly 2,000 square feet in the heart of Hong Kong’s art district. 

“The ability for art to bring people together is at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. It is during these challenging times that we need art, and it is even more important for us – and for Hong Kong – to stay strong and launch the gallery during this difficult moment. We are confident and optimistic about the future of Hong Kong – and the art market in Asia in general – and feel our inaugural exhibition with Zao Wou-Ki, titled ‘Friendship and Reconciliation’, is now more necessary and meaningful than ever,” Arthur and Dominique de Villepin emphasized. 

Installation view 
Friendship and Reconciliation: Zao Wou-Ki
Photo: Winnie Yeung @ Visual Voices Courtesy of Villepin
Artworks (from left to right)
Zao Wou-Ki
Hommage à Françoise, 2003
03.06.70, 1970

 

Installation view 
Friendship and Reconciliation: Zao Wou-Ki
Photo: Winnie Yeung @ Visual Voices Courtesy of Villepin
Artworks (from left to right)
Zao Wou-Ki
Sans Titre, 1950
Sans Titre, 1950
Sans Titre, 2006
Sans Titre, 2002
Sans Titre, 1986

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Sans titre (Funérailles), 1949
Oil on canvas
87.5 cm x 131 cm © ProLitteris, Zurich Courtesy of Villepin

 

Arthur and Dominique de Villepin, 2020
Photo by Sophie Palmier
Courtesy of Villepin


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