BONNEFOY Yves – Extract from « Pour introduire à Zao Wou-Ki » (An introduction to Zao Wou-Ki) in Zao Wou-Ki, Yves Bonnefoy and Gerard de Cortanze, La Différence Editions – Enrico Navarra, Paris, France, 1998 (pp. 27-28).
"(…) Zao Wou-Ki plans to reunite in color – in the same way color attempts to express the world through oil – a knot of self-perception that would be the most rebellious as possible against words or thought, the most despoiled from what one sees when one stops to feel red or blue as simple blue or red and, also, the most foreign to these harmonies that are formed when one stands back – by doing so, already eluding true experience – in order to appreciate what is called beauty. A «journey to color» as if every time one lays red or blue, one had to become the color oneself, only color, and not through a set of discrepancies in a range, but as the flame is fire, meaning simultaneously the evasive part and the whole, including the iridescence on the crown of the heat and the blow of the latter which breaks it.
And why are there such poetic rules concerning the color itself, the experienced but unseen color? Because when one reaches a red embodied by nothing – not even a fire – a blue that is no longer, although almost violet, the reminder on canvas of an impression of mountain, to a backwash of yellow or green representing more for us than a reminiscence of a river or a stormy sky, then this envelop of things that represents color in the West is now torn apart and deprived from its protective role by which the world used to get access to what one believed was the living being. Fundamental outcomes follow for the beings in the world and also, admittedly, for painting in this debate where Zao Wou-Ki has now committed it.
(…) I am looking at these paintings and tell myself, yes indeed, I am called here away from myself, forward in this place which is no longer a place. These paintings, without any doubt, cross the line of appearance. Undoubtedly they cover themselves, such as wide sails, with the phosphorescent foam of non-being, non-wanting. I was not wrong to describe Zao Wou-Ki’s work through the absence of reference, the absence of knowledge. This painter is complying with the lesson of the East. However, am I able to exclude – no I am not – that there are in him, in his need for liberation, even, thoughts, feelings, fighting back when the big wave swells? They tell him, even, and loud, that they are entitled to do so. " (…).