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The Way Is Infinite: Centennial Retrospective Exhibition of Zao Wou-Ki Opened at the Art Museum of China Academy of Art
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Edited BY:Fang Shuaiyin

On September 19, “The Way Is Infinite: Centennial Retrospective Exhibition of Zao Wou-Ki” saw its grand opening at the Art Museum of China Academy of Art (CAA). As a significant cultural program under the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou, a program of the 2024 China-France Year of Culture and Tourism, a key project sponsored by Zhejiang Culture and Art Development Fund, the exhibition was jointly hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China, the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles and the People’s Government of Zhejiang Province, specially supported by the Embassy of France in China, the Embassy of China in France and the Embassy of China in Switzerland, co-organized by the Publicity Department of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee, the China Artists Association, the Zhejiang Federation of Literary and Art Circles, the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism and the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Education, the Hangzhou Municipal People’s Government and the China Academy of Art, co-organized by the Consulate General of France in Shanghai, Institut Français de Chine and Christie’s, and co-curated by the Art Museum of China Academy of Art and the Zao Wou-Ki Foundation.

His artistic journey began in Hangzhou, a place where his artistic talent was nurtured. On the tenth anniversary of his death, his masterpieces finally returned to Hangzhou. “The Way Is Infinite: Centennial Retrospective Exhibition of Zao Wou-Ki”, divided into six sections, showcases more than 200 pieces of Zao Wou-Ki’s important oil paintings, Chinese ink wash paintings, watercolors, lithographs, porcelain paintings and related literature works (including 129 of his oil paintings) in an attempt to present his artistic journey of different periods in every possible way.

Zao Wou-Ki was a world-famous Chinese-French painter. Born in Beijing in 1920, Zao was admitted to the Hangzhou National College of Art (now the CAA) in 1935 and worked as an instructor at the school after graduating in 1941. He traveled to France for further studies in 1948 and was invited by the Ministry of Culture to give painting lectures in his alma mater in 1985. He was elected a lifelong member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 2003, and died in Switzerland in 2013. Zao blended Chinese and Western elements to create a distinctive artistic style. With his artworks included in the collections of more than 150 major museums and art galleries worldwide, such as the Centre Pompidou in France, Tate Modern in the U.K., the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in the U.S., Zao has made unique contributions to cultural exchanges between the East and the West.

Deeply rooted in Chinese culture, Zao maintained a close connection with his homeland and the people there throughout his life. He dedicated his life to interpreting the Chinese art spirit in modern language, as a fervent champion of creative adaptation and development of traditional Chinese culture. As an art scene linking tradition and modernity organically, the exhibition embodies a leap from the former to the latter, a practice transformation of Chinese modern cultural forms through the combination of these two elements.

During the exhibition, the forum “The Way Is Infinite: Zao Wou-Ki’s World of Art” and the symposium “The Dream Quest of West Lake - Zao Wou-Ki 85 Workshop” were held at the China Academy of Art.

The exhibition is held between September 20, 2023 and February 20, 2024 (open to the public from September 26, 2023) at the Art Museum of China Academy of Art.


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