He is one of China’s most celebrated contemporary artists. Blending Western art with Chinese calligraphy, Zeng Fanzhi’s art was initially heavily influenced by German Expressionism. More recently, Zeng started to branch out (pun intended) and embrace a more abstract style, all while bringing to fruition his signature motif – the amalgam of intertwining lines which is reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy.
We can notice that style in Blue, an abstract painting that shows silhouettes of jagged branches against a vibrant multi-shade blue background. This is what Zeng had to say about the painting:
“Before I started painting, I asked several assistants to collect different shades of blue from various regions. The blue you see on canvas is actually composed of more than 10 different colors: for instance, the shade of blue in the lower background and the shade of blue in the foreground are entirely different. According to Cézanne, if you want to accentuate bright colors, you need shadow to serve as their foil. Through this painting, I applied this theory into practice.”
We all bring our own projections when we look at abstract art. From the first moment I saw this painting, I thought about the barbed wire fences at Nazi concentration camps, separating husbands and wives, the living from the dead, the oppressed from the indifferent masses. I’m curious to know what you see.