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“Freud was always my favourite artist…”

29 April 2014 by Lisa

Zeng Fanzhi talking about 'Interior at Paddington'

Zeng Fanzhi talking about ‘Interior at Paddington’

Zeng Fanzhi, one of the world’s top contemporary artists, visited the Walker Art Gallery earlier this year while judging the John Moores Painting Prize.

It was a really exciting opportunity to not only meet but also interview such a renowned artist – especially a Chinese artist – as this is not something that happens every day! Zeng seemed to really enjoy talking a tour of the gallery and then telling myself and Sandra (Director of Art Galleries) about his favourite painting from the gallery, ‘Interior at Paddington’ by Lucian Freud. 

You can watch the video to find out what it is about the painting that he finds particularly inspiring (I won’t spoil it for you!) but what I will mention is a story that he told us while he was off camera.

Zeng said that when he was at university in the early 90s, he really wanted to learn more about Freud and get his hands on as much information about the artist as he could. He told us that there were two libraries at his university; one for the students and one for the tutors.

It was virtually impossible for students to get access to the tutors’ library. Zeng said that he was determined though, as he wanted to study ‘Interior at Paddington’ in particular, which was in a catalogue in the tutors’ library. He  eventually managed to talk his way in, find the book and make a copy of the Freud painting – it’s been his favourite Freud work ever since.

He didn’t know that it was hanging in the Walker before he came to visit – so it must have been a surprise to see it there in the flesh! It was great to find out that a painting by an iconic artist in the Walker’s collections inspired someone to go on to be a great artist themselves.

John Moores Painting Prize

The shortlist of prize winners for the John Moores Painting Prize will be announced at the opening of the exhibition on 5 July 2014 at the Walker Art Gallery. The ultimate first prize of £25,000 will be awarded in September 2014. Find out more here.

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