Zhang Xiaogang - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Thursday, November 17, 2016 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Pace Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Pace Gallery, Zhang Xiaogang, March 29 - April 27, 2013, pp. 14-15 (another example exhibited and illustrated)

  • Literature

    Jonathan Fineberg and Gary G. Xu, Zhang Xiaogang: Disquieting Memories, London, 2015, p. 303 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Derived from ancestral photographs, Zhang Xiaogang’s contemporary Chinese portraits in painting and sculpture have been widely exhibited and celebrated over the course of the last decade. In his paintings from the 1990s and early 2000s, aptly titled the “Bloodline” series, influences from surrealist and symbolist movements are distinctly evident. The subjects are rendered not realistically, but like hazy caricatures against unspecified backgrounds. After the Bloodline works, Xiaogang began experimenting with sculpture, finishing his first series of painted bronze works in 2013, cast in small editions. These sculptures were based off of the same prototypical characters from his paintings in three-dimensional form, recognizable in their features. For example, in the present lot, the subject’s thin-rimmed rectangular glasses recall the same accessory which adorns a repeatedly painted character from his Bloodline paintings in 2005. This work, entitled Young Man showcases a gaunt-faced boy on the brink of adulthood, rendered in beautifully varied hues of gray with cool purple and blue undertones. Cast in perfect symmetry, the bronze is covered in active brushwork that gives a painterly effect entirely different from his refined painting practice, a casting style influenced by Tang glazes and the polychrome sculptures of ancient Egypt. An emotionless gaze evokes the uncertainty of adolescence, while the man’s torso stands rooted on an artist-made plinth with a stature of feigned confidence. An example from the edition exhibited at the artist’s second show at Pace Gallery in 2013, Young Man is a paradigm for Xiaogang’s unique ability to capture a single moment in a long human life, rendered in the simplest of shapes and compositions.

  • Artist Biography

    Zhang Xiaogang

    Chinese • 1958

    Relying on memory and inspired by family portraits from the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Zhang Xiaogang creates surreal, subtle artworks that explore the notion of identity in relation to the Chinese culture of collectivism. Using a muted, greyscale palette, Xiaogang repeatedly depicts a series of unnervingly similar figures, often dressed in identical Mao suits, to create an endless genealogy of imagined forebears and progenitors. Their somber, melancholy gazes are interrupted only by thin red bloodlines intimating familial links as well as occasional pale splotches of color resembling birthmarks.

    Xiaogang investigates how to express individual histories within the strict confines of a formula. His sitters, while appearing muted and compliant, are given physical exaggerations: oversized heads, tiny hands and long noses. These distortions imply stifled emotions and give a complex psychological dimension to the artist's work.

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Young Man

incised in Chinese with artist's signature, date, number and foundry mark "张晓刚 2013 3/3 PTX” on the reverse
hand-painted bronze, on artist's plinth
sculpture 58 1/2 x 32 x 28 in. (148.6 x 81.3 x 71.1 cm.)
plinth 28 1/2 x 36 x 36 in. (72.4 x 91.4 x 91.4 cm.)
overall 87 x 36 x 36 in. (221 x 91.4 x 91.4 cm.)

Executed in 2013, this work is number 3 from an edition of 3 plus 1 artist's proof.

$100,000 - 150,000 

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John McCord
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New York
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2016