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  • Provenance

    Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
    Bonhams, Hong Kong, 23 November 2013, lot 843
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    As one of the most globally recognised Chinese contemporary artists, Zeng Fanzhi has created a body of work so rich and diverse that it spans several distinctly different periods, among which the portrait has always played a key role in his artistic expression. Zeng once said, "I'm interested in portraying people, individual people and their attitudes and moods, experimenting and giving expression to a kind of direct reaction, all for the sake of conveying this person's expressions, emotions, and thoughts, as well as my personal feelings towards this person." (Zeng Fanzhi, quoted in i/We: The Paintings of Zeng Fanzhi, 1991-2003, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, 2003, p. 56) His Hospital and Meat series in the early 1990s displays his humanistic concern towards the suffering of ordinary people. The Mask series, which began in 1993, the year when he moved to the more cosmopolitan Beijing, captures his piercing observation of the contradiction between the external pomposity and the inner emptiness of urban dwellers. After 2000, the artist went on to unmask the protagonists in his canvases.

    Completed in 2006, Portrait is a quintessential example of his style in this period. With his carefully calibrated expressionistic technique, Zeng portrayed a man holding his head with his over-sized hand, slumped in a chair, with hollow eyes looking away. While the lower body of the figure is presented partially with ethereal outlines and thin wash marks below his knees, the upper body is depicted with vivid red colour in dense layers and large proportioned hands. The stark contrast centres the viewer’s attention on the figure’s upper body, building further on which, the painterly brushstrokes render the creases from the figure’s frown broadly visible, thus building a character lost in deep contemplation and drawing the viewer to ponder what he might be dwelling on.

    The composition of this work bears similarity to that of Zeng’s early work A Man in Melancholy, a crucial work painted in the artist’s junior year at college, marking the beginning of Zeng’s artistic career. The importance of this early work is testified by the fact the artist bought it back from auction in 2010 and that it was exhibited in several important exhibitions, including his most recent retrospective in UCCA last year. Compared to the early work, this present lot Portrait, while staying true to his inherent characters, has evolved in terms of the reduced backdrop and the approach of representing texture, testifying to the artist’s continuous exploration of portraiture as a method for conveying personal yet universally appealing emotions and self-reflection on his artistic journey.

  • Catalogue Essay

    身為全球知名度最高的中國當代藝術家之一,曾梵志創作了一系列豐富而多元的作品,每個時期皆有獨特的風格。然而在那其中,肖像一直在他的藝術表達上扮演著重要角色。曾梵志曾經說過:「我對於表現人,一個個體的人的態度和心緒有興趣,並且嘗試用一種直接的反應來予以表現,目的在於傳達這個人的表情、情感、思想以及我自己對於這個人的感受。」(曾梵志,《我.我們:曾梵志的繪畫 1991-2003》,上海美術館,2003年,第56頁)在1990年代初,《協和醫院》與《肉》一系列畫作展現了他對普羅大眾所遭受苦痛的人道關懷。1993年,曾梵志剛剛搬到北京這個大城市,此時他開始創作《面具》系列,捕捉了他對人們在都市環境下,外在所表現出的自大以及內在空虛之間強烈對比的敏銳觀察。2000年後,他不再創作《面具》系列,決定將面具卸下。



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Property of an Important American Collector


signed and dated 'Zeng Fanzhi 2006 [in Chinese and Pinyin]' lower right
oil on canvas
149.4 x 129.2 cm (58 7/8 x 50 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2006.

HK$3,500,000 - 5,500,000 

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 28 May 2017