Chinese contemporary artist Zeng Fanzhi made headlines in 2013 when his work, "The Last Supper" (2001), sold at a Sotheby's auction
for $23.3 million ($180.4 HK million).
Such a momentous sale could be considered a defining moment of 'success' in any artist's career -- but not for the introspective 52-year-old.
1/15 – "Mask Series 1996 No. 6" (1996) by Zeng Fanzhi
Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi made global headlines in 2013 when one of his works, "The Last Supper" (2001), sold at a Sotheby's auction for $23.3 million. However, the prolific artist has been producing works of art for many years as his newly-opened retrospective -- "Zeng Fanzhi: Parcours", presented by the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing -- shows. Credit:
zeng fanzhi studio/ucca
Zeng deliberately left this signature painting out of the largest retrospective exhibition of his works to-date -- "Zeng Fanzhi: Parcours
" -- which is currently on show at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
(UCCA) in Beijing.
"The Last Supper" set an auction record for Asian contemporary art Credit: Sotheby's
"I didn't want viewers to think about auctions, price, and things less related to art," says Zeng. "The secondary market is too excessive."
UCCA director, Philip Tinari, who co-curated the exhibition, agrees.
"One thing we are trying to accomplish with this show is to give a sense of this artist beyond the discussion around the market for his works," he says.
"I think on a certain level, people are always impressed and amazed that these objects made in real time can take on these immense values and that's a piece of the story. But it's just one piece, and it's a piece that's not in direct relation to what the artist is doing."
Comprising nearly sixty works borrowed from collections around the world, "Zeng Fanzhi: Parcours" showcases three decades of Zeng's remarkable career -- from his famous mask series paintings of the 1990s to a new series of exquisite handmade paper works finished just before the exhibition's opening.
The exhibition space for "Zeng Fanzhi: Parcours" was designed by Tadao Ando Architect & Associates Credit: Zeng Fanzhi Studio/UCCA
The works, which span five distinct periods of Zeng's prolific career, are presented in a simple, light-filled space designed by the artist's longtime collaborator, Japanese architect Tadao Ando
"Together the show is a portrait of him [Zeng Fanzhi] as an artist," explains Tinari, one that has "continuously reinvented himself, throughout his career."
Zeng Fanzhi: Parcours
is currently on show at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing.
Georgia McCafferty and Serenitie Wang contributed to this report.