PEI Ieoh Ming – Extract from the foreword of the catalogue of the exhibition Zao Wou-Ki. Encres de Chine (India inks), 1982-1996. A tribute to Pierre Matisse at the Jan Krugier Gallery in New York, Jan Krugier and Maria Gaetana Matisse Edition, New York, United States, 1996.
Text translated into French for the catalogue of the exhibition Zao Wou-Ki, Encres (inks), 1953 – 1999, at the Salle des Ecritures in Figeac, Maison des Arts Georges Pompidou Editions, Cajac, France, 1999
"In the spring of 1971, my wife Eileen and I paid a visit to our old Zao friends (…). However, he showed me a portfolio of ink paintings he had painted to pass the time. These paintings represented his first attempts of traditional China ink painting on paper since he had left China and come to France in 1948. He maintained that he had not been influenced by traditional Chinese painting.
I was enthralled … The lines were ethereal all the while infinitely detailed. However, the most significant, in my opinion, was that these ink paintings spoke the same language as his oil paintings, despite the great differences that exist between both techniques. I still remember how impressed I was to discover that he was a painter in the Western tradition, inspired by a Chinese aesthetic sensibility. Such sensibility forms the keystone of his evolution as an artist. (…)."