DE VILLEPIN Dominique, from « La lumière et le souffle » (The light and the breath), in Zao Wou-Ki et les poètes (Zao Wou-Ki and the poets), Albin Michel Editions, Paris, 2015 (p. 14).
(…) Zao Wou-Ki had a talent for friendship, the skill to refuse clans and cliques, to place himself from the start out of any power relationship in the truth of the human, as expressed by the mighty embrace of his laughter. Three rare talents were combined in a single person, being able to admire, able to be selective and to enjoy sharing, that opened for him the path of his life as a man, enabled him to live in a city he only dreamed from afar where people spoke an unknown language. How has he ever been able to always establish strong links with the best, right upon his arrival in Paris. When Françoise amazed asks him this question, he answers by a merry mystery. But what a confidence he needed to be able to become the friend of the most brilliant artists, even when no one knew them yet! Painters like Sam Francis, Jean-Paul Riopelle or Norman Blum but also musicians like Edgar Varese, poets or doctors. No, no one has ever been to admire better than he did. He was gifted with such a quiet confidence to be able not to sink into the comparison! It needed the free rooting of an uprooted man, of someone who knows where he comes from, but who, far from his origins has to metamorphoses, reinvent himself, find his innermost self. To admire is to find in the other what can nourish one’s own conception of humanity. To accept to metamorphose oneself in contact with the other to enrich from this contact. The strength of admiration widens the span of the exchange. How many poets, illustrated by Zao Wou-Ki, would have at once recognized in this word their feeling towards the painter, as Char did, talking about his ‘admiring friendship’.” (…)