Zhang Xiaogang (b. 1958, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China) is recognized for his figurative paintings and sculptures that navigate the cultural terrain of contemporary China and question notions of identity and the construction of memory. When the Cultural Revolution began in 1966, Zhang’s parents were forced to give up their government posts, leave Zhang and his three brothers behind, and go to a “study camp” in the countryside. Following the collapse of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, Zhang was accepted into the prestigious Sichuan Institute of Fine Arts in Chongqing in 1977.
In 1995 Zhang Xiaogang presented his Bloodline: Big Family series in an exhibition entitled The Other Face: Three Chinese Artists as part of the larger international exhibition Identità e Alterità, installed in the Italian Pavilion during the centenary 46th Venice Biennale. Drawn from formal family portraits, the paintings represent both the individual and the faceless masses of China at once. The figures, often dressed in identical Mao suits, have distinctive red blood lines which demonstrate the links between people.
Since 1989, Zhang has been the subject of over two hundred group exhibitions, including Asia–Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Australia (1997); Guangzhou Triennial, China (2002, 2005); Huang Zhuan Memorial Invitational Exhibition, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen (2017); Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2017); and Practice and Exchange, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2018).
508 & 510 West 25th Street, New York
March 29 – April 27, 2013
Opening reception: Thursday, March 28, 6 to 8 PM
Pace is pleased to present a two-venue exhibition of new paintings and bronzes by Zhang Xiaogang. This is the artist’s second exhibition at Pace in New York.
Zhang Xiaogang will be on view at 508 and 510 West 25th Street, New York, from March 29 through April 27. A public reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, March 28 from 6 to 8 PM. A catalogue with an essay by Jonathan Fineberg, Gutgsell Professor of Art History and University Scholar at the University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign, will accompany the exhibition.
The exhibition features Zhang Xiaogang’s first series of painted bronzes, which render in three dimensions the prototypical characters who inhabit his paintings. Though the sculptures are an extension of Zhang’s portraits, the figures can be classified into psychological types: youthful and idealistic. Sculpted with great clarity in a political-realist style that echoes the state-sanctioned sculptures of the Cultural Revolution, the bronzes range in size from six inches to over five feet tall.
The coolness of the sculptures is further transformed by the painted surfaces. On each sculpture, color has been painted with active brushwork, along with occasional patches reminiscent of the stains on old photographs that were first seen in the paintings of Zhang’s “Bloodline” series of the 1990s.
Painted in a completely unrealistic manner, the color is influenced by Tang glazes and the polychrome sculptures of ancient Egypt, including the sculpted head of Nefertiti. The pupils are painted dark, making the formal figures seem alive, their eyes blazing with an unexpected realism.
The exhibition also includes four new oil paintings that continue Zhang’s inquiries into the domestic interiors to which people returned after the Cultural Revolution, and in which the artist came of age. Three of the paintings contain archetypal family figures—a mother, a father, a child—representing the past and future in the limbo that is the present. A fourth painting, White Shirt and Blue Trousers (2012), combines elements of past and present, placing a traditional element of Chinese paintings—a branch of plum blossoms—alongside a light bulb, a symbol of modernity. As Fineberg writes, the painting “concerns the ‘still life’ in which memory, imagination, creative play, his cultural history, and the present may be arranged and rearranged.”
Zhang Xiaogang (b. 1958, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China) graduated from the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, Chongqing in 1982. During the next three decades, he established himself as one of the most important Chinese contemporary painters, whose figurative works delve into the human psyche, exploring personal and collective memory in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. He has been the subject of twenty solo exhibitions, including museum shows at Gallery of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; Hong Kong Arts Center; Today Arts Center, Beijing; and the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia. He has been featured in international group exhibitions including the Guangzhou Biennial, China; International Biennial of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Venice Biennale; Gwangju Biennial, Korea; and Shanghai Biennale. His work is held in the collections of important museums worldwide, including the Essl Museum—Kunst der Gegenwart, Klosterneuburg, Austria; Dongyu Museum of Fine Arts, Shenyang, China; Fukuoka Museum of Art, Japan; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; National Gallery of Australia; Queensland Art Gallery, Australia; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; and Shanghai Art Museum, China.
Zhang Xiaogang lives and works in Beijing. He has been represented by Pace since 2007.
For more information about Zhang Xiaogang, please contact Sarah Goulet, firstname.lastname@example.org / +1 212 421 8987. For general inquiries, please email email@example.com; for reproduction requests, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2013. Pace Gallery. Paperback