An engraved legacy

Updated: 2016-01-26 11:35

By Deng Zhangyu(China Daily)

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An engraved legacy

Zao Wou-ki in 1973.[Photo provided to China Daily]

He also started creating engravings in 1949 after he moved to Paris, where he stayed for long and made friends with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. He produced more than 400 lithographs and etchings during his lifetime.

The display at Nantong Museum will be representative of his engravings made from 1949 to 2000. Like his oil paintings, his engravings are titled with the dates on which they were completed. Their contents are consistent with his style of relentlessly wedding elements of modern Western art and Chinese artistic traditions.

Among more than 160 solo exhibitions held around the world during Zao's lifetime, only a few were organized in China.

Before he moved to France in 1948, he held two shows in Chongqing and Shanghai. In 1998 and 1999, his retrospective shows featuring 105 canvases were held in Shanghai Museum and National Art Museum of China in Beijing. In 2008, his exhibition of engravings and illustrations was held at Suzhou Museum.

Yin Fu, a former director of China Culture Center in Paris, says he paid Zao many visits in Paris to discuss the upcoming Nantong show when it was being planned in 2012.

"Every time I met him in his sitting room, Mr Zao had a drawing board on his desk even at age 92," recalls Yin, adding that the show was delayed because of Zao's poor health.

Peng, the show's curator, says Zao's wife was reached to establish a trust between the family and the Nantong Museum.

"At first Marquet was cautious. But she was touched by our sincerity and also wanted to realize Zao's unfulfilled wish of holding a show in his hometown," says Peng.

Marquet manages the foundation that works to promote Zao's art. The foundation, which was established in Geneva in 2012, donated 38 works on Wednesday, including Zao's original pieces and from his collections of Chinese art, to Musee Cernuschi, a museum for Asian art in Paris. Earlier, another 90 works of artists such as Picasso, Paul Lee and Alberto Giacometti Zao had collected during his lifetime, were donated to a museum in central France by the foundation.

Some of the engravings to be shown in Nantong were donated by the couple in 2008 to Suzhou Museum when Zao's last show during his lifetime was held in the country.

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If you go

9 am-5 pm, Thursday-May 25, daily except Mondays. Nantong Museum, 19 Haonan Road, Chongchuan district, Nantong, Jiangsu province. 0513-8506-2505.