‘They are not real landscapes. They are about an experience of miao wu [marvelous revelation] ... Miao wu is a kind of revelation. Instead of making something obvious miao wu brought about an unmarked world, which underlies the deep strata of life, both novel and familiar ... Miao wu constitutes a restless journey of discovery.’—Zeng Fanzhi
Hauser & Wirth is proud to present the first Los Angeles solo exhibition of the renowned Chinese artist, Zeng Fanzhi. A pioneer of contemporary Chinese art, Zeng is celebrated globally for his constantly evolving style and subject matter, and the works on view herald his latest artistic breakthroughs that contemplate the intersection of Western art and style with traditional Chinese subject matter and philosophy. Consisting of ten works on canvas executed over the past few years—some of which are over ten feet tall—the exhibition documents Zeng’s latest advances in brushwork and color, celebrating his intuitive approach to painting.
Consisting of ten works on canvas executed over the past few years—some of which are over ten feet tall—the exhibition documents Zeng’s latest advances in brushwork and color, celebrating his intuitive approach to painting. Vivid yellow, cyan blue and vermillion are set as the dominant colors that define each painting, while tonal variations remain nuanced as Zeng’s signature inky black brushstroke creates a vibrant network of patterning.
Adding further complexity to his brushwork, the artist uses broad sweeping strokes that are impressed, layer by layer, upon thick coats of paint, forming a compact and rhythmic wave-like texture. This body of work represents a turn to introspection and deeper contemplation, in which the artist deploys a more diverse pattern of brushwork to explore human consciousness and convey different elements of the human experience.
The effect that Zeng’s technique creates is at once dramatic and intimate. In the paintings from the E Series, the artist creates an intricate, abstract landscape of sinuous lines that unfurl over a background of luminous cyan. A seemingly vast expanse of vibrant blue, closer inspection of the background reveals fan-like brushwork that Zeng intensifies with dabs of brilliant lilac, vermillion, and an inky black wavy texture that imbues the works with rhythm.
The works on view are deeply engaged with the centuries-old painting practices and literati aesthetic philosophy of the Song to Yuan dynasties that Imperial scholar-officials practiced as a means of self-cultivation, using painting to communicate human emotion. Indeed, Zeng states that the crux of his painting does not lie in formal likeness, but rather in his ability to reflect and transmit his own emotional experience through his brushwork.
Accompanying the monumental series of paintings is a suite of six graphite drawings. Echoing the impressionistic abstraction of Zeng’s paintings, these works on paper offer an intimate glimpse into the artist’s process and technique.
Zeng Fanzhi was born in Wuhan, China in 1964 and graduated from the Hubei Institute of Fine Arts in Wuhan in 1991. One of the most celebrated artists working today, Zeng is lauded across the globe for his technical mastery and ability to conjure emotion from his subject matter.
On view now through 30 April 2023 at Hauser & Wirth Downtown Los Angeles.