Zhao Nengzhi takes people’s faces as his subject and depicts attitudes toward life and society and reveals inner wounds in his works. From a child to an adult, the appeared faces look worrisome and depressed; extreme contrast in brightness is emphasized and skins that are excessively distorted and swollen are outcries of energies and feelings that cannot be erupted in repressed situations. Zhao Nengzhi’s work express the inner side of an individual who has been neglected in contemporary society and is the medium that heals our wounds.
When Zhao imagines and faces intellectual work it is always fuzzy and full of disputes, as if it is a continuous smear, cover up, and tears at the intention of the people portrayed by hidden souls excited and forced out from the flesh. There is a silent stop when the viewer is in front of his works, the line of sight penetrates the surface of the facial features and faces directly into the inner self. Thus we realize that the artist is seemingly confused, calm, controlled and the construction is in a painstaking self-art order with the lines and colors intertwined.
Zhao Nengzhi Phantom No. 32, 2007
His recent work since 2014 have shown big changes on the surface. The portrayal of swollen skin has calmed down; disheveled brushstrokes and passionate facial expressions are nowhere to be seen. His figures have become smaller, weaker and constrained, and pushed to the corner. Figures drawn within his work are reflections of a depressed contemporary man who is fighting against his reality. Born in 1968 in Sichuan Province, Nanchung, Zhao Nengzhi graduated from Sichuan Institute of Fine Art. Currently, he lives and works in Chengdu and Beijing.