Zhang Xiaogang - Contemporary Art London Friday, October 13, 2006 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Schoeni Art Gallery, Ltd., Hong Kong

  • Exhibited

    Berlin, Galerie Vierte Etage, 8+8-1, Selected Paintings by 15 Contemporary Artists, 1997

  • Literature

    Schoeni Art Gallery, Ltd., ed., 8+8-1, Selected Paintings by 15 Contemporary Artists, Hong Kong, 1997

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot, Bloodline Series: No. 16, 1997, comes from Zhang Xiaogang’s most highly acclaimed body of work, the Bloodline Series. The faces in the portraits, painted straight on, stare back at the viewer with austere expression. They represent the uniform image of the Chinese people from the years of the Cultural Revolution, complete with Mao’s suit and hat. The portraits, void of emotion, represent the oppression suffered by many. Yet the artist is deliberate in capturing birthmarks, a mole, a haphazard eye, or a pair of glasses—suggesting, of course, the anima that exists within each individual he paints.

    Born in China’s southern province of Yunnan in 1958, Zhang Xiaogang struggled through a difficult childhood in which his family was constantly torn apart. The continuous strain on family relations led to an eventual break in which Zhang Xiaogang did not see his parents for years. The notion of the family and the inter-connectedness of human beings has fascinated Xiaogang to the point of devoting his artistic career to it the idea.

    Regarding the Bloodline Series Xiaogang has said, “I am seeking to create an effect of ‘false photographs’- to re-embellish already ‘embellished’ histories and lives… On the surface the faces in these portraits appear as calm as still water, but underneath there is great emotional turbulence. Within this state of conflict the propagation of obscure and ambiguous destinies is carried on from generation to generation.”

  • 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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Blood Line Series: No. 16

Oil on canvas.
15 3/4 x 11 7/8 in. (40 x 30.2 cm).
Signed and dated “Zhang Xiaogang 1997” on the reverse.

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £164,800

Contemporary Art

14 Oct 2006, 7pm