Rockbund Art Museum 上海外滩美术馆

2010 Zeng Fanzhi 2010 曾梵志

10 August 2010 – 12 October 2010
2010年 8月 10日 – 2010年 10月 12日

2010·Zeng Fanzhi, featuring the latest works by the artist, opens at the Rockbund Art Museum on August 12, 2010. “Seminar on 2010·Zeng Fanzhi”, a parallel event, will also be held at Shanghai Library to discuss Zeng’s work in the course of his artistic career, as well as the status of Chinese contemporary art.

As one of the leading figures in Chinese contemporary art, Zeng already enjoys an international reputation. The continual evolution of his style and imagery over the past two decades has been the subject of study and avidly followed by scholars, critics and collectors in China and overseas. A pursuit of the contemporaneity is one of the main themes of Zeng Fanzhi’s exhibition 2010. It is an aim supported by the works on show being recent and new pieces that have not previously been on public show. This exhibition brings together works that show in the present tense how Zeng is exploring his themes, and it may serve as an important document of both the artist’s own current creative activity and the present development of Chinese art.

The most striking difference between this exhibition and the previous can be easily found in the diverse art form/media applied in Zeng’s work. Fresh on the scene are a myriad of sculptures, engravings, pencil drawings and installations, all arranged and displayed artistically that interact with the museum space. Thus the whole exhibition can be seen as a visually intoxicating symphony, allowing viewers to set their imagination free.

The following is remarks by Wu Hung, the curator, on this exhibition:

“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.

The oil paintings on the third floor continue the mode of landscape rendered in unruly strokes but now a new theme appears – creatures – and this theme continues in the works on show on the fourth and fifth floors. In the paintings on the third floor, the animals appear behind the screen of convoluted tree branches, often staring directly at the viewer as if they have something they wish to tell us. Amid the sullen desolation their sorrowful eyes seem to reveal loneliness and despair. This gloomy mood is seen still more clearly in the works on show on the fourth floor. Two giant mammoth tusks hang from the ceiling, the absent body suggestive of the tragedy of these great beasts that in prehistoric times roamed our earth but are now long extinct. A collection of woodcarvings depict animal remains covered with felt. The flowing folds of the felt resemble the brushwork of some master of old, the embodiment of serene beauty andsolemnity and hence serving to further emphasize the sorrow and cruelty concealed beneath. The woodcarvings - including the two mammoth tusks - have been crafted using traditional lacquering techniques. After meticulous painting and polishing, the carved surface has a texture as smooth as ancient ivory, suggestive of accumulated time and the depositions of history. Finally, displayed on the top floor of the gallery are Zeng’s copperplate etchings and pencil sketches. Replicating the twin themes of landscapes of intertwined strokes and animals, these smaller works show the artist progressing to a more personal take on his subject matter.

Thinking back over the works on the third through fifth galleries with animals as their theme, we find they form an aggregate that transcends their various media and styles, like a musical movement played with rich instrumentation and variety of sound. These works include Zeng’s first-ever works in sculpture and copperplate etching, revealing a new dimension to his artistic endeavor. Blending imagery of animals and figurative evocations of ‘death’ and ‘remains’, these pieces are both a reflection of the artist’s ongoing contemplation of the relationship between Man and Nature and also an interaction with the development over time of the venue itself. The Rockbund Art Museum building occupies what was originally the Royal Asiatic Society Building, then also known as the Shanghai Museum, which a century ago was famous for its collection of animal specimens.

In this light we are able to understand the message of the final piece shown in this exhibition, an installation work in a nearby church, which constitutes the final movement of our symphony. By utilizing the narrow vertical windows that line the old Union Church building, Zeng has created a multiplicity of luminescent virtual stained glass mosaics, transforming the church into a wonderland of light and shadow. Here, the only sculpture on display on this site – one depicting cloth-covered, ‘hidden’ Virgin Mary and Christ – provides a focus for the entire space; gloom and depression give way to something imposing and sublime; auguries of death are ultimately transformed into a presage of hope.”

Apart from “Seminar On 2010·Zeng Fanzhi”, the Rockbund Art Museum is going to host lectures by renowned art critics and theorists, including Lv Peng, Yao Jiashan and Pi Li, on topics such as the artworks by Zeng Fanzhi, art museums and public art biweekly.

2010年8月12日(周四),曾梵志将携其新作亮相上海外滩美术馆,带来《2010·曾梵志》。同时,“《2010 ·曾梵志》学术研讨会”也将在上海图书馆举行,探讨曾梵志的艺术和中国当代艺术现状,以及曾梵志的艺术经历和新的创作方向。









围绕本次展览,除了“《2010 ·曾梵志》学术研讨会”以外,上海外滩美术馆还特别邀请到吕澎、姚嘉善、皮力等专家和学者,就曾梵志的创作、美术馆与公共艺术等话题展开一系列讲座活动,计划每两周举行一次。

Installation View 展览现场