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Artist Zeng Fanzhi on Overcoming Frustration

‘I have always chosen to listen to my heart and stick to my convictions, rather than yielding to reality’

There are two important events that stick in my memory from 1991. The first was that I completed the painting Hospital Triptych No.1. It was my graduation project from the Hubei Institute of Fine Arts, Wuhan, and was inspired by a hospital near my apartment, which I passed through every day. The suffering I was confronted with daily became the subject of the work. The painting was reproduced and published in Fine Art Magazine in the USA and Jiang Su Art Monthly in China) which, at the time, provided enormous encouragement to me as a young artist.

1991 was also the year I found work in a communications agency, having been frustrated by numerous failed job applications. My job was to paint advertisements on street hoardings. I felt utterly confused and depressed. The gap between my imagined ideals and the stark reality of my situation hit home and I began to learn how to face real life.

In the 27 years of my career to date, I have been confronted by many frustrations. Luckily, I have always chosen to listen to my heart and stick to my convictions, rather than yielding to reality. I came to understand that this faith drives a person to do everything possible to realize his or her dreams, without any regrets.

Main image: Zeng Fanzhi, Hospital Triptych No. 1, 1991, oil on canvas. Courtesy: the artist and Hauser and Wirth

Zheng Fanzhi is an artist based in Beijing, China. In 2018, his solo exhibition ‘In the Studio’ was on show concurrently at three Hauser & Wirth locations in London, UK, Zurich, Switzerland, and Hong Kong.

Issue 200

First published in Issue 200

January - February 2019
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