Zao Wou-ki painting sets record at auction

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29.01.64, an oil painting by Zao Wou-ki [Photo provided to China Daily]

The oil painting 29.01.64, created by Chinese-French painter Zao Wou-ki incorporating the kuangcao (wild cursive) style of Chinese calligraphy, fetched HK$ 202.6 million ($26 million) at a Christie's auction Saturday night.

It set a record for Zao's works at auction. What now ranks second is 29.09.64, which sold HK$ 152.9 million in May, also at a Christie's auction.

Zao was born in Beijing and moved to Paris in the late 1940s, where he rose to become an internationally acclaimed artist.

He started to blend Chinese calligraphy into his oil paintings in 1957. He set aside focusing on the meanings of characters, instead exploring the variations of calligraphic forms and how to merge them into his world of abstract art.

His change that year came after a yearlong trip he made to New York, a rising world art center, as well as Hong Kong in China and Japan. He had in-depth communications with artists he met along the way, especially abstract expressionists in the United States. They provided him with novel perspectives to push forward his endeavors to paint in an abstract style.

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