Zeng Fanzhi, ‘7月22日/ On 22 July ’, 2016, Qiao Space

Zeng Fanzhi was born in Wuhan, China in 1964, and lives and works in Beijing. Solo museum exhibitions include: “Zeng Fanzhi: Idealism,” Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2007); “Zeng Fanzhi,” Musée d'Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne de Metropole (2007); “Zeng Fanzhi,” Fundación Godia, Barcelona (2009); “2010: Zeng Fanzhi,” Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2010); “Zeng Fanzhi”, Gagosian Gallery, New York (2011); “Zeng Fanzhi”, Gagosian Gallery, London (2013); and “Zeng Fanzhi: Paintings, Drawings and Two Sculptures”, Gagosian Gallery, New York (2015).

His works have also been featured in various group exhibitions, including: the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); “The World Belongs to You,” Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2011–12); "Prima Materia,” Punta Della Dogna, Venice, Italy (2013); “Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2013–14), etc.

Zeng’s work was the subject of a phased retrospective at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2013–14. Invited by the specially commissioned exhibition at the Musée du Louvre in 2014, his painting From 1830 till now No. 4 (2014) was shown alongside Eugène Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People (1830).

Image rights: Courtesy of ZENG FANZHI STUDIO / 版权归属 曾梵志工作室


Venue: Qiao Space, Shanghai (2016)

Artist Statement: In recent years I have begun enjoying classical paintings. For people in this ancient era, the best times were spent in the courtyard: drinking tea, chatting, playing chess, daydreaming. Every time I look at these scenes, I feel a sense of pride that I designed my studio much like one of these courtyards. Here, I am in touch with the rhythm of nature and the seasons, which gives me a lot of creative inspiration.

On the 22nd of July, it was here that as I touched pen to paper to on a new work, I looked simultaneously both at the frozen scene within the frame, and the dynamic one outside of it, and at once I felt the passing of every minute and every second. The present at one time immediately thereafter becomes the past; perhaps nature itself is the only one able to perceive this most subtle and mysterious of changes.

About Zeng Fanzhi

Zeng Fanzhi achieved recognition in the 1990s for his "Hospital" and "Meat" paintings, both rendered in the artist's signature fleshy red tones. In pairing men with butchered slabs of meat, the works from the Meat series pointed to Zeng's ongoing concern with modernity's problematic history (he grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution) and the isolation and instability of contemporary life in general. Later portraits of subjects like Francis Bacon and Stalin or the "Mask" paintings of well-dressed urbanites hiding behind masks further intensified this sense of alienation. Influenced by German Expressionism, Zeng commonly renders figures with large heads and exaggerated features in bold brushstrokes; Chinese traditional art and calligraphy are recent references.

Chinese, b. 1964, Wuhan, China, based in Beijing, China