DE VILLEPIN Dominique - Extract from the foreword of Zao Wou-Ki – Carnets de voyages (Zao Wou-Ki - Travel notebooks), 1948-1952, Albin Michel Editions, Paris, France, 2006 (pp. 6-7).
(…) "Like the poet, Zao Wou-Ki names things. However, there is no word between his fingers and no speech between his lips. There are only strokes and drips of ink, wondering between the reference of a Chinese character and the rigor of the Western alphabet, between water and signs. In such a breach, a world peculiar to him is being built, which no painter before him had ever explored, because no painter had ever linked both poles of a same world in his work. The West, China: two facets of the same universe, two parts of the same spirit set off from a foreign shore to find its natal river. Here: the sharp slopes of the Alps drawn with one single stroke of the paintbrush in the shape of a rectangle, in Paul Klee’s style, and intertwined in steps up and down, in the shape of a deep-sea monster’s back spine. There: the hills and the snow, softly climbing towards the sky in an effervescence of whites, greys and blues, to the point of merging with it. Two perspectives on the world are observing and contemplating each other, assessing and sizing each other up, and, conversing, as if they attempted to grasp a better truth peculiar to each of them.
Then, a meeting took place. These are two hands holding each other above the oceans, deserts and steppes. These are two sets of eyes meeting. These are two ages conversing, the age of vivacious childhood and the one of great age, when you are short of breath and foggy-eyed. The first inscriptions of the shell, flowers and fish in limestone come to whisper in the abstract ears of the last painters. With a few marks of a quill, through the wet passage of his paintbrush, Zao Wou-Ki links the heritage of painting and his fanatical desire to give the world to see and understand. (…)."