MICHAUX Henri – Extract from « Trajet Zao Wou-Ki », (Zao Wou-Ki’s Journey), foreword for the new edition of the 1957 monograph Zao Wou-Ki by Claude Roy, Le Musée de Poche – Jacques Goldschmidt, Paris, 1970 (pp. 5-7).
‘’Zao Wou-Ki also left the practical world. However, his paintings have kept a certain amount of similarity with nature.
It is here. It is not here. What we see cannot be it. It should be though.
Very different. It cannot be detailed anymore.
Nature captured from the block.
Always natural, warmer, more passionate. Telluric.
It has remained flexible.
Not peculiar, not exotic, fluid, painted with warm colors or rather, lights, streams of lights.
Deprived from trees, rivers, forests, hills, but full of waterspouts, jiggles, spurts, impulses, drips and diaphanous colored magma dilating, coming out and bursting forth.
It was called by new concerns, dramas and invasions.
Through nature, Zao Wou-Ki moves, shows himself, is depressed, revives, falls down, gets back on the horse, is enthusiastic, is a ‘for it’ or is all ‘against it’, is bustling with activity …, says what stifles him.
Through nature, without any hindrance, he can express himself, make really ample gestures, not these gestures merely colored with the painful human exasperation.
Through nature, in covenant with nature, one can experience more intensely what one used to experience alone. One is able, transcending any suffering, any liberated longing, to experience it once more with munificence, a stupendous munificence … without ridiculing oneself.
One borrows the extent, the depth of nature. One is able to live on a new scale.
In Zao Wou-Ki’s paintings, whose size is sometimes gigantic, suitable to the dimension of his current feelings, there are more and more powerful assumptions of earth – a magnifying transfer. Enormous masses must take off when time comes.
Such nature re-creates for Zao Wou-Ki a superb geological period.
Levitations, mixings and upheavals are dominant.
Zao Wou-Ki’s paintings – like everyone knows – have one virtue: they are beneficial."