With an impressive but still somewhat limited output of 1800 paintings, Zao Wou-ki has become the focal point of Chinese cultural pride, their Abstract Expressionist master. Jason Chen pens this compact profile of the nonagenarian painter on the WSJ’s Scene Asia blog:
“Back in the 1990s, I was so picky. I’d go to Paris and find the big masterpieces,” said Victor Ma, a Taiwanese financier and collector whose 100-plus Zao works adorn the walls of his office and home. “No more. The Taiwanese and Chinese, they’ve bought it all.” […]In 1951, he discovered the color-drenched paintings of Paul Klee, a major influence on Mr. Zao’s work that prompted his turn toward abstract art. New York dealer Samuel Kootz, who at the time represented Jackson Pollockand Mark Rothko, started exhibiting Mr. Zao’s works in 1959. […] But by the 1990s, interest among galleries and museums was flagging. Mr. Koutouzis said he recalled one dealer in Geneva cutting prices to clear his Zao inventory. “There was a long plateau period,” said Ms. Marquet. “Museum directors in the U.S. and France would tell him they weren’t interested in abstraction. He was out of fashion.” […] Mr. Zao experienced a resurgence in 2003 with a flurry of exhibitions. Marlborough Gallery in New York showed a collection of his new works, marking his first U.S. show in more than 10 years, followed by private gallery shows in Paris and Hong Kong, and a retrospective at the Jeu de Paume Gallery in Paris.