Zhang Xiaogang - Contemporary Day Sale London Sunday, June 28, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Max Protech, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    One of the foremost members of the Chinese Avant-garde in the 1990s, Zhang Xiaogang became an important part of the international art world with his Bloodline Series of mostlymonochromatic portraits inspired by formal family photographs from the Cultural Revolution period.The narrative  of Zhang's work explores the relationships between the past, memory and history, the pain of loss and the relief of recovery. His paintings are a relentless observation of history and experience which are constantly being revised through memory. Xiaogang's exploration of photography continues the core themes of his photo-realist paintings.In these works the silent absence of the image filled with the personal words taken from his diary, engages with the notion of identity within the Chinese culture of collectivism, as translated from the Chinese writing on the present lot: "I cried when I was reading your letter, because when I was reading it, I felt tremendously sad. I really want to cry now! But I hold in my tears. I am a strong person. I hope you and your wife can be happy. I know your wife loves you wholeheartedly. I love her too. I hope both of you are happy. I want to help her. I understand her misfortune. I will think of a way to help her. I love you. I don't want you to die."

  • 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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Two Works: Untitled 1; Untitled 2

C-print with acrylic paint.
(i) 40.6 x 50.8 cm. (16 x 20 in).(ii) 50.5 x 41 cm. (19 7/8 x 16 1/8 in).
Signed [in Punyin] and dated 'Zhang Xiaogang 2005' lower right of each.

£20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for £22,500

Contemporary Day Sale

29 June 2009, 4pm