Zeng Fanzhi

In the beginning of his artistic career in the late 80's, Zeng Fanzhi painted apocalyptic, expressionist images, thus manipulating modernist compositional effects to intensify his sinister version of reality. His representational work reveals the place of the unconscious and aberrant in the construction of experience. The over-sized, clenched hands of his subjects are almost more remarkable than their stereotyped faces and wide-open eyes. Zeng Fanzhi's art simulates the fatigue of the contemporary experience: the rush to acquire and consume to the point of alienation and detachment. Working in idiosyncratic ways, he reminds us how effective art can be when it collapses these various experiences. He traces the eruption of the corporeal into the optical sedition of visual art.

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. The mood of his work is subtle unsettlement: it often suggests some past violence, recent or old, from which we can unravel clues - but never completely understand.

His paintings are much more than sardonically recycled imagery. Zeng Fanzhi delivers an art that feels new, not in its premises but in its refined vitality. His 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. Still, in his newly developed 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. When viewed, the paintings constantly seem to evolve and create new particular impressions. The images reflect a social reality that is made up of multiple signifying systems of which the landscape is just one.

Zeng Fanzhi was born in 1964 in Wuhan province and 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), and Art Centre (Hong Kong).




Born in Wuhan, China

Lives and works in Beijing

Selected Solo Exhibitions


Zeng Fanzhi:The Sublime, Union Temple

Zeng Fanzhi, Shanghai Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai

Zeng Fanzhi, The National Gallery of Foreign Art, Sofia, Bulgaria


Zeng Fanzhi, Godia Fundation, Barcelona, Spain

Art Beijing 2009--Zeng Fanzhi, Art Fairs Agricultural Exhibition Centre of China, Beijing

Narcissus looks for Echo, Zeng Fanzhi Suzhou Exhibition, Suzhou Museum, Jiangsu Province

Zeng Fanzhi, Acquavella Gallery, New York


Tai Ping You Xiang-Zeng Fanzhi solo exhibition, ShanghART Beijing


Zeng Fanzhi, Musee d'art Moderne Saint-Etienne Metropole, France

Zeng Fanzhi Idealism, National Art Museum, Singapore

Zeng Fanzhi 1989-2007, Gallery Hyondai, Seoul, Korea


Zeng Fanzhi - Paintings, ShanghART H-Space, Shanghai

Hero, Zeng Fanzhi solo exhibition, Art Basel Miami 06, Miami, USA

Zeng Fanzhi, Gallery Wedel, London, UK


Sky, Fine Art Literature, Wuhan

Paintings by Zeng Fanzhi, Hanart T Z Gallery, Hong Kong


Unmask the Mask - Zeng Fanzhi, Artside Gallery, Korea

Face, Soobin Gallery, Singapore

Scapes 1989-2004, the paintings of Zeng Fanzhi, He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen


I/We, 1991-2003, The Painting of Zeng Fanzhi, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai


Raw Beneath the Mask, ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai


Zeng Fanzhi: The Mask Series, ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai

Zeng Fanzhi Works 1993-1998, CIFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts) Gallery, Beijing


Behind the Mask, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kon


Zeng Fanzhi, Hubei Institute of Fine Arts Gallery, Wuhan

Selected Group Exhibitions


The World Belongs to You, Palalazzo Grassi, Italy

Fusion. Contemporary Art Exhibition, Yiyuan Space, Wuhan


Made in popland, National Museum of Contemporary art

And-Writers 2010 - Nan Jing Biennale, Jiangsu Provingcial Art Museum, Nangjing

2010 The Constructed Dimension, 2010 Chinese Contemporary Art Invitational Exhibition, National Art Musume of China, Beijing

Reshaping History: Chinart from 2000-2009, Special Documenta, China National Convention Center, Beijing

Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai

Fairy Tales Selections from the MaGMA's collection, Opera Gallery, Singapore

Photo Exhibition of Contemporary Artists, Today Art Museum, Beijing


Normality, 2009 Art Works Show, New Space of Fine Arts Literature Art Center

First Annual Conference of Collectors of Chinese Contemporary Art, Hejingyuan Art Museum, Beijing

Retrospect and Exploration, Hu Bei Province Art Museum

Another scene - artists' projects, concepts and ideas, ShanghART H-Space, Shanghai

Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass, U.S.A.

China Gold, Museum Maillol, Paris, France

53rd Venice Biennial, Making World, La Biennale, Venice, Italy

Boao Asia Contemoprary Art Exhibition - Contemplation and Communication, Boao Asian Forum International Meeting Center, Hainan

Contemporary Art from Hunan & Hubei 1985 - 2009, Guangdong Art Museum, Guangdong


Lovely Blossoms and Full moon, YUZ Collection of Chinese Contemporary Art, YUZ Museum, Darmawangsa Square unit 31-33, The City Walk, JI. Darmawangsa VI&IX, Jakarta

FIAC 2008, Booth B12, Art Fairs Grand Palais, Paris

The Love of Art: Collection of Contemporary Art in China, Today Art Museum, Beijing

The Revolution Continues, New Art From China, The Saatchi Gallery

Our Future, The Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation Collection, Ullens Foundation, Beijing

Case Studies of Artists in Art History and Art Criticism, SZ Art Center, Beijing

Crouching Paper, Hidden Dragon, Works on Paper, F2 Gallery, Beijing

Writing on the Wall, Chinese New Realism and Avant-Garde in the Eighties and nineties, The Groninger Museum, Groningen, The Netherlands

21st Century China. Art between Identity and Transformation, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Roma, Italy

Selected, ShanghART H-Space, Shanghai

Academic and Un-Academic II, Exhibition of Yibo Gallery, Shanghai


China's Neo Painting-A Triumph Over Images, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai

Beyond Icons: Chinese Contemporary Art in Miami, Miami Design District, Miami, U.S.A.

Wuhan 2nd Documentary Exhibition of Fine Arts, Hubei Museum of Art, Wuhan

Thermocline of Art, New Asian Waves, ZKM (Center for Art and Media), Karlsruhe, Germany

Individual Positions 1, ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai

Time Difference, Initial Access, Wolverhampton, UK


Art in Motion, MoCA, Shanghai

Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany

Jianghu, Jack Tilton Art Galleries, New York, USA

Contemporary China, PKM Gallery, Seoul, Korea


Mahjong, Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Zhou Chunya, Zeng Fanzhi & Ji Dachun, Beijing

China, Contemporary Painting, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Bologna, Italy


New Boundaries, Taikang Top Space, Beijing

The 1st Wu Han Nominative Exhibition of Fine Arts Literature, Art Gallery of Hubei Institute of Fine Arts

Face to Face, Six Artists and One Era, Robert & Li Art Gallery, Taiwan

Exhibition of Nominates for Art Documentation, Art Gallery of Hubei Academy of Art, Wuhan


Contemporary Arts, 798 Space, Beijing

Invitational Gallery Exhibition, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai

Left Hand, Right Hand -, A Sino-German Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Beijing 798 Space Art & Culture, Beijing


The First Guangzhou Trienniale - Reinterpretation: A Decade of Experimental Chinese Art (1990 - 2000), Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou

Korean and Chinese painting - 2002 New Expression, Seoul Arts Center, Korea

Paris-Pekin, Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Espace Pierre Cardin, Paris, France


Towards a New Image, Twenty Years of Chinese Contemporary Painting,, The National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai; Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou; Sichuan Modern Art Museum, Chengdu


Chinese Muren Chinese Walls, Groningen, Netherlands

Futuro Chinese Contemporary Art, Contemporary Art Centre, Macau


Chinese Oil Painting for Fifty years, International Exhibition Center, Beijing

Open Channels, The First Collecting Exhibition of Dong Yu Museum of Fine Arts, Dong Yu Museum, Shenyang


Chinese Contemporary Art, Nikolaus Sonne Fine Arts, Berlin

It Is Me, Forbidden City, Beijing


Quotation Marks, Chinese Contemporary Paintings, National Art Museum, Singapore


The First Academic Exhibition of Chinese Art, China Art Gallery, Beijing: Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong

Reality: Present& Future- '96 Chinese Contemporary Art, International Art Palace, Beijing

China!, Touring Exhibition, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany

Existence and Environment the Chinese Way:The first Academic Exhibition of Chinese Contenporary Art, The Art Museum of Capital Normal University, Beijing


Beyond Ideology: New Art from China, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Hamburg, Germany

Out of the Middle Kingdom:, Chinese Avant-Garde Art, Santa Monica Arts Centre, Barcelona, Spain


New Art from China, Marlborough Fine Arts, London, UK

Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, Fung Ping Shan Museum, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong

Exhibition of Works Selected By Art Critics, China Art Gallery, Beijng


New Art From China, Marlborough Fine Arts, London, UK

China's New Art, Post-1989, Hong Kong Arts Centre and City Hall, Hong Kong


Guangzhou Biennial-Oil Painting of the Nineties, Convention Centre, Guangzhou