Zeng Fanzhi's The Last Supper on view at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

PARIS - The Sotheby’s Asia 40th Anniversary Evening sale was a resounding success, with many new records set throughout the night, yielding more than encouraging results. The Last Supper by contemporary Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi was sold for more than HK$ 180 million (US$ 23.1 million), not only setting a new record for the artist, but also setting a new world auction record for any piece of modern and contemporary Chinese art. This proves once again that ultimately, at the heart of a collector’s agenda are works of indisputable quality.

Zeng Fanzhi has long received acclaim both academically and within the world of art collection; this new auction record only adds to the story. His exhibition, which started last month in the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, is the artist’s most comprehensive solo exhibition to date in Europe. The exhibition looks back on his career, which has spanned over two decades. From early German Expressionist inspired pieces such as the Hospital series, to the more recent Untitled series, which recalls both American Abstract Expressionism and Chinese traditional ink landscapes. In this way, Zeng thus sets his distinctive style apart from artists from around the globe.

Zeng Fanzhi's Mask Series No. 6 is on view at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

The current exhibition showcases The Last Supper, alongside many works rarely seen by the public, such as Hospital Triptych No. 2, which was included in the Guangzhou Biennale in 1992. Also showing is the 1996 Mask Series No. 6, which features six masked figures wearing red scarves and the 1997 Mask Series No. 8 (Rainbow), which was donated to the M+ Museum in Hong Kong by the Swiss collector Uli Sigg last year. This exhibition is organised by way of flashbacks, highlighting the importance of Zeng’s current luanbi inspired Untitled series.

The Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris has established a relationship with Chinese artists since its early days, such as an exhibition hall dedicated to Zao Wou-ki from 1975 to 1977. Zao imbued western abstraction with Chinese philosophy, giving the abstract tradition an unprecedented twist. In the same manner, Zeng captured the spiritual essence of traditional Chinese landscape paintings and reimagined it with western mediums in his Untitled series. Although the two artists are five decades apart, Zeng and Zao share a very similar inheritance and dedication to art.

The Zeng Fanzhi exhibition will run through until 16 February 2014.