Recently while hurrying through the Art Institute (Chicago) to see the Vollard Exhibit (fantastic!), my eye was caught by a painting I’d never seen before, by an artist I’d never heard of: Zao Wou-ki. It was a beautiful abstract, on the small side, in a room of really interesting contemporary art. (They’re doing a lot of construction there, so I may never be able to find this room again. . . .) In any case, I was so struck by this painting that I came home and looked the artist up on the net.
According to Wikipedia, Wou-ki was born to a wealthy Beijing family of letters in 1921, studied calliagraphy, Chinese brush painiting and Western oil painting at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Hangzhou, where he was a professor from 1941-1974. He moved to Paris in 1948, and from then until 1974 he painted as an abstractionist.
Subsequently, he decided to return to painting in the Chinese style as well.
The Marlborough Gallery has a wonderful site showing many recent works by this talented artist:
His Chinese style paintings are viewable here:
I find fascinating that he paints so beautifully in both styles. I think the Chinese brushstroke painting tradition clearly influences what seems to me to be very landscape-inspired abstracts, but I have no training that would allow me to know if the influence goes both ways.