2010 Zeng FanzhiAug 10, 2010 - Oct 12, 2010

Aug 10, 2010
Wu Hong
Zeng Fanzhi
Rockbund Art Museum
  • The single work in oil by the entrance of gallery provides the opening sonata of this symphony. It is a painting that creates a huge visual impact: the massive body of a just-slaughtered bull lies flayed and still bleeding. The rapid and unruly brushwork reveal the artist’s agitation and absorption. This prelude work serves two purposes here: first, creating suspense and firing visitors’ interest and imagination for what they are about to see inside the exhibition; and second - since in terms of image and concept the painting recalls Zeng’s earlier works, in particular the ‘Meat Series’ (1992) and ‘Human Being and Meat’ (1993) – establishing a dialogue across time and space, implicitly suggesting the historic dimension of this exhibition.


    Following the staircase beside this painting on up to the second and third floors, the works in oil displayed here continue to be in the painterly medium, but as we shift through space they come to constitute two groupings, each with its particular content and visual logic. Two ten-meter canvases span the entire width of the gallery’s second floor, to date the largest paintings the artist has created; these can be viewed as the first movement of the symphony that is this exhibition. In both paintings random brush strokes depict an abstract landscape – or more accurately, the image of a landscape that is in the artist’s mind. The two paintings here show wildernesses scorched by wildfire on canvases extended widthwise to the very limit. Withered tree branches contorting skyward create a screen across the foreground. Beyond, white-hot flames leap and play, leaving dull-red coals shimmering in the deep places of the dense thicket. But it is the different primary hues of the two works — one all silver gray, the other in reds, yellows, blues and greens — that create such a powerful contrast between them, and each expresses a quite different creative concept. Hung across from each other, viewers are compelled to study the detail in the works. This is the traditional way of appreciating scroll paintings and also how these two works were hung in the artist’s studio while he created them. Stood between them, as you contemplate one work you lose sight of the other.

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