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December 9, 2023

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MAP hosts its first exhibition of contemporary oil painting

“Zeng Fanzhi: Old and New (Paintings 1988-2023)” is the first exhibition project dedicated to contemporary oil paintings since the Museum of Art Pudong’s opening in 2021.

Acclaimed as one of the most influential living artists today, Zeng has been utilizing his keen observation, superb painting technique and distinctive art style to record both China’s overall social landscape and private emotional experience for the past three decades.

The exhibition is divided into four sections — “The Early Years,” “Different Paths,” “Painting as Contemplation” and “Monumentals” — including his early “Mask” series of the 1990s, the “Abstract Landscape” series of the 2000s, as well as his continuous practices of still life and portrait.

Born in 1964 in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province, Zeng graduated from the Hubei Institute of Fine Arts in the provincial capital.

The artist has held solo and group exhibitions at a number of renowned art institutions both at home and abroad.

The current exhibition is divided between the first and third floors of the Museum of Art Pudong based on different phases of his career.

The first section, “The Early Years,” which is on the museum’s first floor, includes portrait practices and depictions of urban scenes from his time in the art academy. From distinctively large hands to highly expressive faces, elements that would later become emblematic of his work started to emerge.

In 1994, Zeng launched the “Mask” series that won him overnight fame. In these works, the artist observed urban crowds through the lens of a bystander. They exposed the incongruities between people’s individual awareness and social identities.

The remaining three sections of the exhibition continue on the third floor. They offer diverse perspectives to display Zeng’s later works.

The exhibition also features two special components. They are clips from the video installation “YOU Project,” which records Zeng’s creation process of one of his oil paintings in 2014, and visual and auditory add-ons created by renowned film director Cheng Er and his team.

Zeng held that the viewer’s experience is an indispensable part of contemporary artwork. The idea was put into practice by his friend Cheng, known for films such as “Lethal Hostage,” “The Wasted Times” and “Hidden Blade.”

Cheng led his team to examine Zeng’s works for an extended period during the planning stage. They then transformed their own feelings and experiences into visual and auditory forms.

The auditory reflections are incorporated into the third section, “Painting as Contemplation,” while the visual materials are presented in different ways in accordance with time and space.



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