Christie’s has lined up two important paintings by Zao Wou-Ki to lead their Spring season of sales in Hong Kong starting on 24th May. The perennially strong Zao market has recently shifted into a higher gear after last Fall’s $65m sale for the artist’s largest painting. That result helped push Zao to become the artist with the third highest auction volume last year. With $326m in auction sales, Zao falls just behind Claude Monet and runs distant to Pablo Picasso.
This week in Hong Kong, another $55m in Zao’s art sold at auction reinforcing the trend for another year. Christie’s has secured another one of Zao’s very large triptychs from the mid-1980s:
The top highlight of the season is the exceptionally important and magnificent work Triptych 1987-1988 (estimate HK$120,000,000-150,000,000), to be presented on the market for the very first time.
Completed between 1987-1988, this composition stands as one of the largest and most important triptychs executed by Zao during the 1980s, and is one of only 20 large triptychs created by the artist that are known to exist. This exceedingly rare work is the second largest painting by Zao to ever be offered on the market and features the rich colours and dramatic composition that characterises Zao’s best work during this period.
Triptych 1987-1988 was created out of the synthesis between Zao’s knowledge of Chinese painting techniques and his Western sensitivity to colour and light. Influenced by Henri Matisse’s series of “open window” paintings and Claude Monet’s Nymphéas, the work depicts a transcendent abstract space, suggestive of a moment of sublime genesis.
The second work offered by Christie’s is Zao’s 02.01.65:
This painting is one of the best examples of Zao’s “Hurricane Period” where he integrated the energy and movement of Chinese cursive calligraphy with Western abstract expressionism after his trip with Pierre Soulages to New York, Japan and Hong Kong. This 1965 painting builds upon several powerful works created in the prior year (which have achieved top record prices) by embodying even greater complexity and movement and can thus be considered a major masterpiece from the period.