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  • Zeng Fanzhi began to seek enlightenment from traditional Chinese art after the year 2000 and learned the aesthetics of the oriental art spirit. He worked hard to find the connecting point between the East and West and finally came to fruition through his adaptation of luanbi (loose-brush technique), which came to be his Abstract Landscape series. Breaking free from the shackles of his earlier figurative works, this series may be considered a perfect union of traditional Chinese brushworks and Western abstract art, showcasing a magnificent ambience that draws in its viewers with a strong visual sense upon close inspection. This change in style originated from an injury of the artist’s dominant hand as he was forced to paint with his left hand. He frequently lost control of the brush and damaged the over all composition of the pieces he was working on, and this subsequent power of destruction made him aware that such uncertainty contained opportunities for an entirely new creative direction.



    Henri Rousseau, The Dream, 1910
    Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York


    The painting Untitled 09-7-1 illustrates a forest with dense vegetal growth. Zeng Fanzhi freely and continuously twisted and turned his brush, forming tree branches that staggered iteratively on the canvas. The scenery captures the brushstrokes much like the cursive script of Chinese calligraphy yet styled rhythmically like music. The vigorous overlapping brushworks form a gradual buffer, obstructing the light source hidden in the background while providing visual layers. Zeng Fanzhi once said: ‘When I am painting, I work with two brushes simultaneously. The brush held between the index finger and the middle finger serves as the creative leader, while the other brush brings about destruction during the creative process. The method will create seemingly chaotic brushworks that are orderly in the drawing.’ This type of special method reminds one of the improvisation techniques of abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. Performed without bodily consciousness, the method looks random but contains boundless passion. This is indicative of Zeng Fanzhi becoming more open-minded after unveiling his famed masks, and subsequently allowing himself to roam freely on the canvas with his brush. The lines that fill the canvas are like Zeng’s psychological defense, putting up a barrier but still allowing people to peek into his inner psyche. The earth hidden behind the branches is a mixture of red, blue and yellow, filled with visceral brushworks expressing the blazing energy of his heart. In the darkness, a yellow light source in the distance is symbolic of the artist’s endless pursuit. Looking at the bright light in the dark gives the painting a sense of lyrical mystery.



    Jackson Pollock, One: Number 31, 1950, 1950
    Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA


    The ‘Abstract Landscape’ or luanbi series is one of the most crucial artistic breakthroughs of Zeng Fanzhi. No longer reliant on a symbolic single image, he has abandoned rational composition in favor of a comprehensive liberation through intertwining colours and light rays. He sought subject matter and inspirations from nature and daily life which allowed him to establish a brand new visual system via unrestrained brushworks and landscape composition full of Eastern flavors. This allowed him to further convey what was in his heart on canvas. The novel artistic language of Untitled 09-7-1 created unlimited possibilities, becoming a work of Zeng Fanzhi that is filled with personal emotional characteristics.



    Zhang Xu, Four Poems (detail), Tang dynasty
    Collection of Liaoning Provincial Museum, Shenyang, China


    • Condition Report

    • Description

      View our Conditions of Sale.

    • Provenance

      Gagosian, Hong Kong
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Hatje Cantz Verlag, ed., Zeng Fanzhi: Every Mark Its Mask, Ostfildern, 2010, p. 194 (illustrated)

Property from an Important Private Asian Collection

✱ Ж36

Untitled 09-7-1

signed and dated ‘Zeng Fanzhi [in Chinese] 2009 Zeng Fanzhi’ lower right
oil on canvas
200 x 200 cm. (78 3/4 x 78 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2009, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Gagosian, Hong Kong.

Full Cataloguing

HK$8,000,000 - 15,000,000 

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Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art
+852 2318 2026
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 30 November 2021