I republish below my 2011 discussion.
The series of the Masks by Zeng Fanzhi, begun in 1994, are constituting a favorite set within the contemporary Chinese painting. His characters hide their personality for reasons that are probably their own. Relations between humans are artificial.
In 1996, at the time of the full development of his Masks, Zeng painted a life size self portrait, oil on canvas 200 x 169 cm. It is estimated HK $ 25M (before the 2011 sale), and the enthusiasm of the Chinese press could not leave us indifferent.
Zeng provides an image of himself without a mask. He is a young artist of 32 whose face is too serious, whose hands are too large and jacket too narrow. He is dressed cool but in western fashion, and for sure he questions if such a modernism betrays the Chinese tradition. The wall behind him is covered with some unreadable calligraphy.
On May 24, 2008, Christie's had sold for HK $ 75M including premium a Mask painting of the same year, 1996, 200 x 360 cm, on which eight aligned characters smile without reason, like for a family or team sport photo.
The 2015 catalogue by Sotheby's includes an interesting comment on a possible influence of Max Beckmann's self portraits on Zeng. The scattered watermelons may be a symbol for the commonplace garbage in Western and Eastern modern life.