Zeng Fanzhi: “Artists Need To Be Narcissistic”

Zeng’s Retrospective Kicks Off At Rockbund Art Museum In Shanghai

Zeng Fanzhi at RAM

Zeng Fanzhi at RAM

Today marks the opening of Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi’s retrospective at the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai, a wide-ranging exhibition curated by Wu Hung that includes not only Zeng’s signature oil paintings but new sculptures, installation works and pencil drawings, showing us another side of China’s “#1 contemporary artist.” It’s been a busy year for Zeng, with one of his paintings setting a record at a BAZAAR charity auction in May, 100% of his works at the Sotheby’s spring auctions selling, and his solo exhibition in Sofia, Bulgaria attracting huge media attention. With his new retrospective (running through October 12), Zeng gets a chance to show another side of himself — a goal he’s mentioned in recent interviews — and prove he lives up to his billing as one of China’s best living artists.

From YNet’s coverage of Zeng’s opening (translation by Jing Daily team):

The exhibition features more than 20 pieces never-before exhibited or published by Zeng Fanzhi, including oil paintings, sculpture, prints, pencil drawings and installation works, showing the new understanding that “China’s most expensive artist” has towards art.

Because of his title as “China’s most expensive artist,” Zeng Fanzhi is often seen on the covers of fashion magazines. He likes to smoke Mexican (sic) cigars, wear Dunhill cologne, and presents himself “more like a politician than a slovenly artist.”

“Artists need to be narcissistic. If you’re not narcissistic you can’t possibly stick with it,” Zeng said. His narcissism is not without reason, though — when the Chinese contemporary art scene took off, his work was at the forefront: he was one of the first Chinese contemporary artists to sell for over a million dollars.

Works by Zeng Fanzhi, on display at the Rockbund Art Museum (20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai) until October 12, 2010.

Zeng Fanzhi

Zeng Fanzhi

Detail of oil painting

Detail of oil painting

Zeng Fanzhi sculpture

Zeng Fanzhi sculpture

Zeng Fanzhi sculpture

Zeng Fanzhi sculpture

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Art & Auction, Culture