The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Record-breaking Chinese artist Zeng lifts the mask at the Museum for Modern Art in Paris
Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi poses in front of one of his paintings, entitled Autoportait, on October 17, 2013 at the Museum for Modern Art in Paris, ahead of the first restrospective of his work in France. AFP PHOTO FRANCOIS GUILLOT.

By: Pascale Mollard

PARIS (AFP).- His 2001 painting "The Last Supper" has just sold for $23 million, but growing up in a working class family during China's Cultural Revolution, Zeng Fanzhi could never have anticipated the path his life would take.

"The notion of the artist didn't exist," he said of his art school days in the central Hubei province.

"We were art workers. We didn't know that we could be free and independent," Zeng, in Paris for a retrospective of his works, told AFP.

Based on Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, Zeng's "Last Supper" -- part of the Paris show -- set a new record for a contemporary Chinese artist when it was sold at auction in Hong Kong on October 5.

The work, which depicts Christ and the disciples wearing masks and communist Young Pioneers uniforms, was purchased by an anonymous private buyer following a 10-minute telephone bidding war.

Born in 1964 in Wuhan in Hubei province, Zeng is currently the subject of a show at Paris' Museum of Modern Art featuring around 40 of his works dating back to 1990.

"It's the first time in my life that so many of my works have been brought together... It's very important to me," he told AFP, speaking through an interpreter.

Currently ranked the fourth highest-selling contemporary artist -- in terms of auction turnover -- according to art data firm Artprice, his sales in 2012/13 reached $34.3 million.

Such success is a far cry from his days as a student at the Hubei Academy of Fine Arts.

"In the place where I was living, there were no toilets so I had to go to the neighbouring hospital several times a day," he said.

This inspired a series of works based on what he had witnessed on his visits.

For his graduation painting he presented the expressionistic "Hospital Triptych No.1" which attracted the attention of the Chinese art world.

In 1993, Zeng moved to Beijing and began working on his masks series.

"Behind most of these masks, it's me. I had very few friends because I had just arrived in Beijing," he said.

His works have always drawn on his own life and emotions including his childhood, which was indelibly marked by the Cultural Revolution.

From its start in 1966 until Mao's death in 1976, this saw the rejection of traditional forms of Chinese culture.

In "The Last Supper", the disciples' Young Pioneers uniforms feature the red scarves that were a symbol of achievement in Communist China -- something Zeng said always eluded him.

And the Judas figure "wears a gold scarf which evokes the power of money and capitalism".

"I never had the red scarf," he said.

"I was excluded from collectivity. It was like a badge of shame for my parents. It was a shadow over my childhood," he added.

Zeng is now collaborating on a museum project that he believes will enable him to express his artistic vision.

His current work uses a technique which he adopted in the middle of the last decade in which blurred lines are employed to depict landscapes.

"Before painting a big canvas, I prepare for several days in order to attain a state of calm and serenity. Then I paint fast, in an intense way," he said.

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

October 20, 2013

Record-breaking Chinese artist Zeng lifts the mask at the Museum for Modern Art in Paris

Moderna Museet in Stockholm opens exhibition of works spanning all of Cindy Sherman's career

3rd Edition of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation's $100,000 Future Generation Art Prize is launched

"Lawrence Schiller: A Splash of Marilyn" opens at Galerie Melilli Mancinetti in Berlin

Eli and Edythe Broad win $250,000 Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership

"One Celebration, Eleven Rooms and a Yellow Corridor" at the Mönchehaus Museum

French President Francois Hollande pays 'emotional' visit to Mandela house in Soweto

For the first time in Italy, an exhibition accompanies the visitor on a fascinating journey through the brain

Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt announces PackH2O wins the 2013 People's Design Award

Exhibition on artistic practices during the 80s and 90s on view at Museo Reina Sofía

"Spanish Sojourns: Robert Henri and the Spirit of Spain" opens at Telfair Museums

Solo show by American artist David Ryan opens at Galerie Richard in New York

Exhibition including more than 300 artists celebrates resiliency of New York artists after Hurricane Sandy

Jeu de Paume in Paris presents the work of Natacha Nisic

Paintings by country music songwriter Steve Wariner on view at the Tennessee State Museum

UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum exhibitions examine art and politics

Ketterer Kunst's new website offers high-quality artworks in the lower and medium price range

One of world's finest competiton car collections to be sold at RM's Paris sale

Rare Himalayan & Indonesian masks featured at San Francisco Tribal & Textile Arts Show

North Carolina Museum of Art presents Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Boy and an amateur archaeologist unearth legendary Danish king's trove in Germany

2.- Exhibition at The Met illustrates what visitors encountered at The palace of Versailles

3.- Philadelphia Museum of Art opens "Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950"

4.- Exhibition at Michael Hoppen Gallery presents a cross-section of works from Thomas Mailaender's career

5.- New York's Chelsea Hotel celebrity door auction raises $400,000

6.- Stevie Ray Vaughan's first guitar drives Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction to nearly $2.9 million

7.- Lichtenstein's Nude with Blue Hair tops $2.4 million sale of Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples

8.- $6.7 million Fancy Intense Blue Diamond sets auction record at Sotheby's New York

9.- Mexico court blocks sales of controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

10.- Dutch museums to conduct new research on the paintings of Pieter de Hooch

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful