The Leopard, signed in Chinese; signed 'Zeng Fanzhi' in Pinyin; dated '2010' (lower right), oil on canvas, 280 x 180 cm. (110 1/4 x 70 7/8 in.) Painted in 2010. Estimate: HK$6,000,000 – 8,000,000. US$769,200 – 1,025,600
HONG KONG.- Christie’s, the world‟s leading art business, will hold a special charity sale of an iconic work by renowned Chinese contemporary artist Zeng Fanzhi. The Leopard (iestimate: HK$6-8 million/US$769,200 – 1,025,600), will be offered at Christie‟s Hong Kong Evening Sale of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art on 28 May. With proceeds going to non-profit organisation The Nature Conservancy, Christie‟s will also waive all commissions for the sale of this work.
The Leopard will be displayed together with over 30 other works from Zeng‟s solo exhibition entitled “BEING” (界線的共鳴). The exhibition will be held from 27 to 30 May at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre and will be sponsored by the François Pinault Foundation, the Rockbund Museum and Christie‟s. The free exhibition, based on the theme of people and the environment, shows the latest works from Zeng‟s Nature Series. The charity sale of The Leopard is a befitting highlight to this meaningful collaboration in support of the environment.
Eric Chang, International Director of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art at Christie’s Hong Kong commented, “Christie’s support for the charity sale of The Leopard is an example of how our auctions continue to bring the best art and the best people together. Our Hong Kong sales of Asian contemporary art in particular have been instrumental in propelling Chinese art to the global stage since over a decade ago. As all eyes are on Asia now, I hope more of the world’s collectors will support this worthy cause and participate in this sale.”
Zeng Fanzhi is one of the world‟s best known Chinese contemporary artists whose „Hospital’ and „Mask’ series are highly regarded internationally. In The Leopard, which is from a new series called „Nature’, Zeng has reversed his usual subject-ground relationship.
On a monumental canvas standing nearly three meters tall, Zeng presents a solitary and ill lit leopard, moving cautiously through a dark forest. The foreground of the composition is dense with Zeng Fanzhi‟s characteristically expressive brushwork, depicting a thicket of dry, lifeless branches with no order other than the insinuated drive to envelope the protagonist. The depth of the landscape is delineated by mysterious flairs of white and the powdery blue snow embankment. The leopard is shown passing over this ridge, against an infinite black sky, peppered with flakes of snow, behind him. The surface of the canvas is built up through a range of brushstrokes ranging from the broadly expressive to the truncated, calligraphic branches, and the soft inviting texture of the animal.
Some areas of the composition seem deliberately blurred, as an audience‟s vision would be in trying to gaze through a snowstorm. The handling of the leopard is particularly evocative, highlighting the soft subtle beauty of its coat, varying from white to ochre to soft amber, speckled with its black spots and the snow gathering on its back. Its gaze is almost shockingly human. A viewer, who knows Zeng‟s practice, becomes aware that the artist has afforded the animal a greater humanity than his human figure-based paintings.
Eric Chang, International Director of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art at Christie’s Hong Kong commented, “The significance of Zeng Fanzhi's art lies not solely in its theme or the media employed, but largely in his exploration of the expressive power of lines and their aesthetic meaning at all levels. In his line aesthetic, Zeng adapts the artistic tradition of his Eastern cultural origin revamps the style of calligraphic lines consummately practised by classical Chinese artists and integrates them with the lavish colors and textures found in Western oils.
Boosted by the power of colors, each and every brush stroke in the hand of Zeng manifests unique, subtle changes that liberate the potential power of the lines and their expressive capacity as an abstract element. It is through such an endeavour that he brings about a new language of art and extends the expressive power of lines beyond their possible height and depth, transcending both his Self and the traditional culture of Chinese art in which his aesthetic of lines is rooted. His latest ‘Landscape Series’ is a sweeping exegesis and recapitulation of this spirit. It is further developed and more sophisticated, and is a development of the art of lines in the contemporary art scene.”
*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits.