The small, exquisite atelier in which Zao-Wou-Ki lives and works gives on a luminous garden with a weathered stake fence. On summer afternoons, sitting there in the radiant green light, one recalls the ancient chronicles of Li-Kouei-tcheng's workshop, where emperors were wont to take their ease while the Master spun magic worlds from his brush. The spell is heightened as Madame Zao, supple and lovely as a dancer, moves with a shy smile among the shadows. But Zao-Wou-Ki is no bearded sage of legends; he is a modest amiable young man, vital, and sensitive to the currents of his time. Despite the aqueous quiet of his art, he is impatient for the sun and the frequent games of tennis to which he is devoted.
Born in Pekin in 1920, and educated there, Zao early revealed the gifts which were to win him the distinction of being the youngest artist to hold the coveted post of Professor at the famous university. But his interests were not to rest with Chinese art alone. More and more, Western painting, particularly that of Klee (himself profoundly influenced by the Chinese), compelled his attention, and, inevitably, he made Paris his home after World War II. The Paris art world was quick to discover his talents, and, logically enough,the gallery with which he is affiliated is that of Pierre Loeb, Klee's discoverer.