One of China’s most important artists working today, Zeng Fanzhi (born in Wuhan, Hubei province in 1964) is the focus of an exhibition at the Museum for Modern Art in Paris where the whole of Zeng Fanzhi's career via the presentation of forty paintings and sculptures in reverse order, from 2012 to 1990 is on view.
Zeng Fanzhi graduated from Hubei Academy of Fine Arts in 1991 when ideological changes in China and the style of German Expressionism deeply influenced him. His early paintings are thus recognizable by their signature expressionistic strokes and underlying violence and agony.
Upon moving to Beijing, Zeng Fanzhi began his celebrated Mask series in 1994 which brought him to the attention of contemporary art collectorsi. In Mask No 13, a man is wearing a white grinning mask and caressing a Dalmatian with his enormous and chiseled hands. And while the intimacy between the man and the dog suggests the artist’s optimistic view towards the world around him, there is an element of the sinister lurking behind the mask on the man’s face. By using sharp brush strokes, Zeng magnifies psychological tensions between the stylized theatrical mask and the subdued human body. In 2008 a painting from the Mask series fetched 9.7 million US dollars at Christie's.
Anxiety and psychological gravity are also revealed in the Chinese artist's portraits, including a self-portrait from 2009, in which the artist, in a long red robe, is sitting on a stool in front of a massive solemn landscape of mountains.
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris Website