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Artists Zeng Fanzhi
Zeng Fanzhi Photo

Zeng Fanzhi

Chinese Painter

Movement: Expressionism

Born: 1964 - Wuhan, China

Zeng Fanzhi Timeline

Quotes

"I am always very fascinated by delicate and micro-aspects of the world, and usually when I discover the beauty of these aspects I will amplify and multiply the effects of what I see into the paintings. This is why I make such huge paintings. I want to exaggerate and underscore the beauty of these delicacies and these minor aspects. I believe that many artists are moved by the micro-aspects of the world and this is what inspires them."
Zeng Fanzhi
"I believe more and more in the notion of fate and how what we call chance plays a role in that. I have begun to believe that there is a predestined life for everyone, and sometimes I feel like it is by fate that I was guided in a certain direction, instead of me choosing one direction initially and of my own volition. I believe that sometimes even though I make a plan there may be other changes that will overtake the plan completely. Sometimes a very minor aspect can change the whole plan."
Zeng Fanzhi
"Admittedly, all artists want their work to be immortal and everlasting, and I hope that my work can be appreciated when I'm deceased. I hope that when people look at my work they can find something new, and they can find something they wanted to see within the paintings; the things they are looking for. However, I think in terms of the word legacy, I would say it is important to leave a spiritual legacy to the world instead of a materialistic one."
Zeng Fanzhi
"The reason I chose to be an artist, since my childhood...is actually because I want to find a place that is tranquil...isolated from the outside. Even now I am still seeking a quiet environment, a peaceful environment. It is my personal dream that some day I can just do the painting."
Zeng Fanzhi
"My works are introspective, which tend to reflect my personal life and emotions."
Zeng Fanzhi
"I wear my own mask, the one showing my true expression; yes, but every mask shows a sort of reality too."
Zeng Fanzhi
"Life and art are closely intertwined."
Zeng Fanzhi
"I have experienced the drastically changing environment in China and I cherish the experience because it has provoked emotions that are so intense."
Zeng Fanzhi
"I'm used to working on different types of projects simultaneously - works of different themes and methods. The chemistry of complementation and contrast creates new ideas."
Zeng Fanzhi

"What remains unchanged is my pursuit of beauty."

Synopsis

For over three decades Zeng Fanzhi has been working to clear a path for Chinese art that offers a frank critique of contemporary Chinese life while creating an art historical dialogue between East and West. Zeng's oeuvre shifts between portraiture of artists, of himself, and of everyday workers; abstract color fields; landscapes; and satirical figurative works. Dedicated to the utilization and representation of emotion in painting, his works are challenging, hard-hitting, and evocatively rendered reflections on political and personal worlds.

Key Ideas

Zeng Fanzhi's most important contribution to contemporary art and painting is in his critique of communist-era Chinese propaganda, including the restrictive controls on art and artists, where Socialist Realism was the only permitted figurative painting model, featuring idealized images of political leaders and happy, healthy citizens.
Zeng's paintings present his own hybrid identity comprised of Western and Eastern influences (artistically, personally, and stylistically) and broader East/West hybridity brought on by increasing globalization. He also often challenges Westernization and Chinese tradition simultaneously in one painting, presenting complex renditions of global relations today.
His early work used thick, painterly techniques to reproduce flesh and meat - creating haptic, corporeal images of contemporary China through the literal bodies of the country's everyday workers and citizens.
Later, masks became an important signifier of loss, alienation, and the whitewashing of Asian identity in Zeng's work, where white-masked figures repeat themselves in different groupings.
His recent work includes abstract techniques to render landscapes, whose process (for example painting with two brushes simultaneously) gives them complex political meanings for example challenging the idealized landscape of a famous nationalist poem, thus continuing his interest in place and the weight of recent history in China.

Biography

Zeng Fanzhi Photo

Childhood

Zeng Fanzhi was born in 1964 in Wuhan, Hubei, and grew up during the later part of the Cultural Revolution in China. His parents worked at a printing house, and he says that they encouraged him to take up painting "to keep me out of trouble, off the street." He recalls, "When I was young, life was so tough that it was difficult to think about one's future. At the time, the most important thing was whether we could make ends meet and feed ourselves. I think before my 20s the most important thing to me was whether I could feed myself."

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Zeng Fanzhi Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Zeng Fanzhi
Interactive chart with Zeng Fanzhi's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
Takashi MurakamiTakashi Murakami
Albrecht DürerAlbrecht Dürer
Francis BaconFrancis Bacon
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning

Personal Contacts

Phong Bui
Jörg ImmendorffJörg Immendorff

Movements

German ExpressionismGerman Expressionism

Influences on Artist
Zeng Fanzhi
Zeng Fanzhi
Years Worked: 1987 - present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Yue Minjun
Zhang Xiaogang

Personal Contacts

Phong Bui
Jörg ImmendorffJörg Immendorff

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism

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Content compiled and written by Alexandra Duncan

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Alexandra Duncan
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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