Iconic artist's exhibition showcases his evolution

Iconic artist's exhibition showcases his evolution

The exhibition at Shanghai's Museum of Art Pudong, Zeng Fanzhi: Old and New (Paintings 1988-2023), is showcasing the important phases in the evolution of the artist, considered one of the most important oil painters in the country's contemporary art scene.

More than 60 of Zeng's most iconic creations from the past 35 years have been chosen for the exhibition, which has four interrelated yet distinctive sections. The exhibition opened on Sept 27 and will run until March 8, 2024.

Zeng was born in Wuhan, Hubei province, in 1964. Since graduating from the Hubei Fine Arts Academy in the 1980s, the 59-year-old has become a very influential living artist in China and is widely recognized for his keen observations and exceptional painting techniques, and the distinctive artistic style he uses to document the overall social landscape and personal emotional experiences, according to the chief curator of the show, Fabrice Hergott.

Hergott is also the director of Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, where Zeng held a major retrospective exhibition titled Zeng Fanzhi in 2013.

The exhibition at the Pudong museum consists of his most iconic Mask series from the 1990s, the Abstract Landscape series from the 2000s, as well as the first public showcase of his latest creation since 2019, the Sparkling Paintings.

Li Minkun, the director of the museum, says that his museum had made special arrangements for Sparkling Paintings to be showcased in an exhibition hall and positioned the series to take advantage of natural light so that visitors will be able to view different expressions of its colors according to the time of the day.

During the exhibition's preparation phase from Sept 16 to 17, Zeng created an oil painting, titled Abstract Landscapes — Red, at the museum, marking the first time he has painted live at a museum. The painting is being presented alongside most of the sketches and rough drawings he made on site during the process.

The exhibition starts on the ground floor of the museum, where the first section, The Early Years, chronicles the significant junctures in Zeng's initial career.

Standing in front of a portrait he did for friends and schoolmates in Wuhan, the artist recalls his university years. In 1993, he moved to Beijing where he went through a period of depression and loneliness.

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