Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2019 Autumn Auctions
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Zeng Fanzhi (b.1964)
Spirit(Painted in 1993)

Oil on canvas

100 x 70 cm.39 3/8 x 27 5/9 in.

Signed in Chinese and dated on upper right

2007, New Interface 3: Searching the Future, Red Bridge Gallery, Shanghai, p.101
6 – 16 Sep 2007, New Interface 3: Searching the Future, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai

Private Collection, Asia

An Awakening Call
Spirit: A Precious Animal Portrait in the 90s by Zeng Fanzhi

Unlike his contemporary peers, Zeng Fanzhi focuses on the reality, expressing his disorientation when confronted with the economic transformation in the early 90s. Under the influence of German wartime expressionists like Max Beckmann, Zeng designs dramatic personas aligned with the social context for his subjects and creates visually dissonant effects through their awkward expression, quirky posture and the indistinct background. Inspired by artists like Willem De Kooning, he has developed unique outlining brush strokes to present the traumatic imprint that the social tsunami has left on individuals.

From Meat to Mask:
The Spirit That Lights up the Dark
Referred by Li Xianting, Zeng held his solo exhibition in 1993 at Hanart TZ Gallery in Hong Kong as his official debut overseas, which marked the takeoff of the globally renowned artist who unleashed the vitality of Chinese contemporary art market. Finished in 1993, Spirit is a precious iconic piece created at Zeng's early career stage with animal as the subject.

The painting's main subject is the white dog sitting at the center. Its sharp gaze right at the viewers makes him look like a smart old man. Despite the randomly scattered blood-red splatter, Zeng's mastery of outlining techniques and the use of forceful strokes dated back to the Hospital series put in place a solid figure with incredible vitality. The unmethodical strokes at the background imply the fleeting nature of time and resemble the street view through a translucent curtain. The presentation goes with the oversized body parts and fleshy colors in the Meat series and preludes how his style evolves into the one shown in the Mask series. The red-and-white face wears an indifferent expression along with a confrontative gaze. The larger-than-normal limbs, a signature technique that can also be spotted in the Mask series, resemble a pair of big hands that symbolize the artist's fortitude and perseverance. In comparison with the carefully outlined realist renditions in the Mask series, this piece is one of the very few paintings that shows Zeng's sincerity and passion under the seemingly introvert and composed appearance. He finally succeeded in awakening the people of his days by facing the adversity head-on and lighting up the dark like a spirit.

Price estimate:
HKD: 500,000 – 800,000
USD: 63,800 – 102,000

Auction Result:
HKD: 2,124,000



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