Beijing 1920 – Nyon 2013
As an artist with dual nationality (Franco-Chinese), Zao Wou-Ki's work combines Western and Eastern artistic styles. Born into a family of intellectuals, Zao Wou-Ki learned the art of calligraphy from his grandfather at the age of ten. In 1935, he entered the Hangzou School of Fine Arts where he studied drawing, oil panting and traditional Chinese painting for six years. Influenced by Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse or Picasso, he decided to leave for Paris in 1947. There, he spent his days contemplating the great masters exhibited at the Louvre, attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and settled in the painter's district of Montparnasse, in a small studio next to Alberto Giacometti. He surrounded himself with a new friends, artists from differend backgrounds: Americans Sam Francis, Norman Bluhm and Joan Mitchell, Canadian Jean-Paul Riopelle, Portuguese Maria Elena Vieira da Silva, German Hans Hartung and French Pierre Soulages.
His works are in the collections of the Tate Modern in London and the Guggenheim Museum and MoMA in New York. More recently, a major exhibition on his work was held in 2018-2019 at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris.