Phillips Hong Kong announces never-auctioned works by Zao Wou-Ki
July 13, 2022
Phillips is unveiling two important paintings by Zao Wou-Ki, 14.10.69 and Untitled, from the collection of the artist’s daughter, Sin-May Roy Zao. Appearing on the auction market for the first time, both works will be offered in Phillips’ 20th Century and Contemporary Art and Design Sales in Hong Kong this Fall
Ahead of the sales, two works will be showcased at Phillips Paris alongside other highlights from the upcoming 20th Century and Contemporary Art and Design Sales across London and Hong Kong from September 13-23.
“I am glad to offer these two works by my father spanning nearly five decades in their execution in Phillips’ upcoming Hong Kong Fall auctions,” says Sin-May Roy Zao. “Hong Kong is where my mother and I came from and where my parents met, so the city always holds a special place in my heart. I look forward to sharing these memorable works in my collection with collectors and art lovers there, and I hope they will continue their journey in good hands.”
On the occasion of the exhibition in Paris, the auction house is showcasing a group of sculptures by Zao Wou-Ki’s second wife May Zao from the private collection of Sin-May Roy Zao.
The collector adds, “Rare but incredibly accomplished, my mother’s compelling organic sculptures represent her shared passion for art with my father and a common language in their respective artistic creation. They were exhibited alongside my father’s first examples of ink on paper at an exhibition in Paris in 1973 after her passing in 1972. I am very pleased to have this opportunity to showcase them again and recreate a dialogue between her and my father after 50 years.”
Phillips’ International specialist of 20th Century and Contemporary Art, Clara Rivollet says, “Both works masterfully capture Zao Wou-Ki’s extraordinary singular talent in balancing Western abstraction with the essence of Chinese ink painting, which established the artist’s unquestionable status as a paragon of modern art.
“In the lead-up to the auction, we are particularly excited to present a special preview in Paris featuring two paintings alongside sculptures by the artist’s beloved wife May Zao. In the dialogue between the two artists and lovers, one finds a shared sophistication and ambition to express the intangible.”
Beautifully emblematic of Zao’s astoundingly rich and varied oeuvre, 14.10.69 offered in the Evening Sale is a compelling example of the most intensely creative period that lies between the late 1950s to the early 1970s. In the 1960s, Zao’s work became more vibrant and forceful, growing increasingly abstract as he moved away from the figurative style that characterised his earlier work toward a bolder, more energetic mode of painting.
The unique features of Zao’s works made him stand out against the tide of post-war abstract paintings in Europe and earned him global fame. Directly inspired by the traditional Chinese landscape painting, 14.10.69 perfectly expresses the tension between yin and yang, light and darkness, full and emptiness, in a dual composition which brings out the energy of life.
Offered in the Day Sale, Untitled, painted in 2007, exemplifies Zao’s joyful expansion of his colour palette where tension lies in the colour’s contrast. By 2007 Zao’s compositions translate a new appeasement where the artist reconnects with the instinctive joy of colours.
Around this time the artist also starts painting large watercolours where he lets the colours run on the paper and merge freely. Untitled epitomises perfectly this late mastery of colours in a newly peaceful way.
The exact dates of Phillips’s Hong Kong 20th Century and Contemporary Art and Design Sales will be announced in due course.