Zeng Fanzhi - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips

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  • When Zeng Fanzhi first moved to Beijing, his works featured a strong expressionist style that reflected his psychological state. After 2001, the portraits in his paintings gradually removed their masks, and the symbolic features began to disintegrate as his painting transitioned from illusions to representations. The artist's strong emotions further sublimated into the paintings as, with the removal of masks and the reduction of backgrounds, he attempted to face himself honestly.


    With the gradual strengthening of Zeng Fanzhi's inner will, he began to face his own emotions directly. Self-Portrait is a representative work from this period. The artist looks into the distance with a firm and confident gaze. The free and unrestrained expression of colour and brushwork serves as a powerful extension of Zeng Fanzhi's emotions. Though the artist gradually achieved a spiritual liberation, he still found it difficult to freely interact with the outside world, and the paintings deliberately conceal the subject’s emotions. In Self-Portrait, the hands which Zeng Fanzhi often uses to express emotion are hidden outside the canvas. He uses expressive bright colours and brushstrokes to depict the neck and face in contrast to the colour of the clothing. The use of shading and black gradation on the clothing seems to coincide with Zeng Fanzhi's metaphorical approach, but also highlights the emotional resonance of the subject of the painting.



    Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant, 1912
    Collection of Leopold Museum, Vienna


    The independent portrait composition and blank background in Self-Portrait reflect Zeng Fanzhi's sense of loneliness. With the display of his own face, the artist presents a new experience in his understanding of human nature. As with the title of the monograph Zeng Fanzhi released in the same year, ‘Zeng Fanzhi: The Eye as the Soul’, this work is an extension to how the artist feels. The direction of the gaze in the painting shows the artist's anticipation and readiness as he stands alone against a background of nothingness, leading viewers to rush headlong into inspiration and explore new creative directions.


    • Provenance

      Yibo Gallery, Shanghai
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

Property from an Important Private Asian Collection



signed and dated 'Zeng Fanzhi [in Chinese and Pinyin] 2007' lower right
oil on canvas
130.3 x 130.4 cm. (51 1/2 x 51 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2007, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Yibo Gallery.

Full Cataloguing

HK$2,500,000 - 4,500,000 

Sold for HK$3,150,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

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

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021