Zeng Fanzhi is a contemporary Chinese artist based in Beijing. Zeng's works have been praised as showing an emotional directness, an intuitive psychological sense, and a carefully calibrated expressionistic technique.
Born and raised in Wuhan, Zeng was interested primarily in painting and drawing from a young age, and did poorly in school. His earliest works are large-scale abstract paintings. Moving to Beijing in the early 1990s, Zeng's art became a response to this immersion in what he viewed as a more superficial environment, with his seminal Mask series displaying the tensions between the artist's dominant existential concerns and the pomposity and posturing of his new contemporary urban life. Throughout, Zeng's expressionistic techniques run counter to such techniques' conventional usage. That is, Zeng's representation of raw, exposed flesh or awkwardly oversized hands is not an attempt at pure emotional expression, but instead play against the superficially composed appearances of his subjects, an ironic treatment of emotional performance as a metaphor for a lost self, of stunted self-realization.