Zeng Hao - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private collection, London

  • Catalogue Essay

    Zeng Hao is one of a handful of Chinese artists who have produced a specific, yet restrained response to the tragic events of September 11th. The artist is among a select few in his peer group whose stylistic concerns naturally transcend national boundaries, focusing instead on a global consciousness of space and time. Zeng constantly engages with the traditions of modernism: his paintings, which portray the material debris of postmodern life bouncing around like particles in an accelerator, owe a debt to Mondrian in their fractured, stylized depictions of the urban landscape and its components. Recently, Zeng’s paintings have moved from the interior to the exterior, exploring landscapes with a nascent anxiety that recalls Magritte’s Empire of Light paintings. The works are titled only by their date and occasionally time, as if the artist is attempting to immortalize an otherwise insipid moment in an act both artificial and courageous.
    The present lot is unique among Zeng Hao’s oeuvre in its specific reference to the World Trade Center attacks. Zeng manipulates his signature freewheeling use of perspective and space to analyze the sentiments surrounding the World Trade Center attacks. The upturned skyscrapers and cross-sectioned building immediately put the viewer on alert that Zeng’s painting is moving further into metaphorical territory, using architecture and spatial representation to symbolize contemporary desires and disquietude. We can voyeuristically inspect the occupants and furnishings of the first skyscraper’s exposed interior: its assorted elements only reveal a general sense of isolation and anticipation, but within the television and open book there exist numerous lifelines of information invisible to the naked eye.
    An increasingly familiar motif in Zeng’s recent works, the ascending airplane is a symbol that cannot fail to invoke references to terrorism. Yet the airplane also functions as a powerful symbol of progress and globalization, and with it the fears that are always attendant to hope. As such, Zeng’s works serve not only as pictorial representations of the contemporary psyche, but aim to integrate new and unconventional structures of thought and information into the space of the canvas itself.


7 October

Oil on canvas.
239.5 x 300 cm. (94 1/4 x 118 1/8 in).

£30,000 - 40,000 

Sold for £38,900

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

28 Feb 2008, 7pm