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Lot 17. Zao Wou-Ki (1921 - 2013), 10.03.92, signed and signed in Chinese; signed and dated 10.3.92 on the reverse, oil on canvas, 96,5 x 130 cm; 38 x 51 3/16 in. Executed in 1992. Estimate 1,000,000 - €1,500,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.

The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Fondation Zao Wou-Ki. The work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné currently being prepared by Françoise Marquet and Yann Hendgen. It is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. 

Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.

Literature: Pierre Daix, Zao Wou-Ki, Neuchâtel, 1994, p. 181, illustrated in colour
Yves Bonnefoy, Gérard De Cortanze, Zao Wou-Ki, Paris, 1998, p. 261, illustrated in colour.

Note: The 1990s are a decisive turning point in Zao Wou-Ki's career. Punctuated by the reception of prestigious awards -among which the Praemium Imperiale in 1994- along with major retrospective exhibitions of his works in Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei and Mexico, this decade is that of recognition. Boosted by this wave of acclaim, Zao Wou-Ki creates 10.03.1992, one of his most haunting and harmonic compositions.

As Georges Duby wrote in the preface of the catalogue of the exhibition A Retrospective of Zao Wou-Ki held at the Fine Art Museum of Kaohsiung in 1996, it is truly at that time that the artist found peace and reached the zenith of his art. "Freed from all the ritualized processes that bundled the act of painting in old China", Zao Wou-Ki undeniably found his way between tradition and innovation, figuration and abstraction, telluric inspiration and sensitive world. As he explains himself in the catalogue, "[until then] a piece of myself was forgotten, buried under things." After finishing 10.03.1992, the artist seemed reconnected with himself, and clearly overcoming his inner battles to give way to a majestic work. As he adopts a warm palette of bister and amber tones, in contrast with the dark effusions that formerly spurt gaudy colors, as an echo of a world about to crumble, here Zao Wou-Ki presents a past or future world filled only with peace where struggle and chaos would have turned into harmony and softness. Undoubtedly a masterpiece, the orographic shapes cleverly placed at the center of the composition of 10.03.1992 look like vaporous reminiscences of the opaline landscapes of the Song tradition.

All the genius of Zao Wou-Ki precisely resides in the shimmering transparency effects "giving an unctuous density, a delicious and infinite splendor to the colored substance", that only the reconciliation of too long-opposed traditions made possible. Which only Zao Wou-Ki managed with such brio.

Sotheby's. Art Contemporain - Evening Sale, Paris, 05 Jun 2019, 07:00 PM