Born 1964, China
Zeng Fanzhi is one of the icons of the Chinese contemporary art scene of the past 25 years. He comes from Wuhan province where he studied oil painting at the Wuhan Art Academy. Today he lives and works in Beijing. Zeng Fanzhi has exhibited widely at acclaimed institutions such as the Shanghai Art Museum, National Art Museum (Beijing), Kunst Museum Bonn, Kunstmuseum Bern, Santa Monica Art Centre, (Barcelona), National Art Museum, Singapore and Art Centre (Hong Kong).
Zeng Fanzhi’s notorious mask series conducted in the mid 90’s marks a turn in his aesthetics. All the figures in the series wear white masks fused closely with the facial features. The masks nevertheless possess a peculiar, haunting power. His figures look anxious or fearful, as if they are victims of their own roles. Through the mask motif, Zeng Fanzhi expresses suspended reality.
Zeng Fanzhi’s late paintings signify a shift in his focus from a formal concern with the representation of existential unsettlement to an interest in how we imagine ourselves interacting with nature. In his recent landscape paintings, there is a notion of permanent escape – an attempt to inhabit the uninhabitable. These images are expressively abstract. Rendered in cool shades of pink, black and blue, they represent the tension of failed community and human loneliness. Within these large-scale images there is a notion of fragility and vulnerability; like an attempt to create a terrain of uncertainty that inhabits both characters and landscape depicted. The grand scale of the paintings lends them a certain suggestive and sublime appearance. Over the years Zeng Fanzhi’s paintings have always been rich in colour and composition, compelling and linked strongly with history, politics, emotions, psychology, fantasy and memories.
ZF says: “I grew up in the environment of the Cultural Revolution and all these ideologies take a lot of space in my mind, but when I paint I just want to portray my inner feeling and the people around me. I’ve never been interested in my art becoming symbols of political ideas.”
Represented by: www.shanghartgallery.com