Zeng is already represented by ShanghART in Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore, and by Gagosian everywhere else, including Hong Kong, since 2011. Zeng says he will keep cooperating with both. “Both of them have traveled with me along my ‘art journey,’ which can be lonely for an artist. Galleries become like friends and teachers,” he said.
According to the director of ShanghART, Lorenz Helbling, Hauser & Wirth’s triple-exhibition “is a healthy challenge for the artist, and also for the galleries. But besides that, the aim is always that more people see, understand, and understand more deeply the work of an artist.”
What Hauser & Wirth can offer that ShanghART and Gagosian can’t is a slightly different positioning. Sylvain Levy, the Paris-based collector who holds one of the most important private collections of Chinese contemporary art, and who purchased his first Zeng Fanzhi in 2006, said “both galleries are among the big five,” but Hauser & Wirth feels somehow “more exclusive.”
Levy, for one, doesn’t see Zeng’s expansive practice and growing representation as an obstacle to his art making. “Picasso also had a very large and diverse production,” he said. “It’s important to be visible and omnipresent, to have a brand.”
And for galleries well aware that 32% of global sales come from just 0.2% of artists who sell work for more than $10 million, it’s important to have artists like Zeng on the books.