Zhang Xiaogang, ‘Big Family’, 2003, Phillips
Zhang Xiaogang, ‘Big Family’, 2003, Phillips

Image: 22 1/2 x 28 1/2 in. (57.2 x 72.4 cm)
Sheet: 27 1/2 x 32 1/2 in. (69.9 x 82.6 cm)

From the Specialists:
Zhang Xiaogang’s surreal and subtle artworks explore the notion of identity in contrast with the Chinese culture of collectivism. With references to family photos from the time of the Cultural Revolution, the mutely colored subjects depict a visual genealogy, families with early similar features and lacking specialty.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: Signed and numbered 64/199 in pencil, published by Kwai Po Collection, Hong Kong, framed.

About Zhang Xiaogang

Relying on memory to recreate a highly personal version of his country’s history, Zhang Xiaogang makes art that is as much about himself as it is about China’s past. The grim imaginary families in his “Bloodlines: The Big Family” paintings of the 1990s and his 2005–06 series of grisaille portraits in oil reveal countless narratives about the aspirations and failures of the Cultural Revolution as well as Zhang’s own emotions. Like the blank visages of the individuals in these paintings, Zhang’s brass and concrete sculptures of figures, as well as implements used for recording history (such as fountain pens, notebooks, and light bulbs, all 2009), appear compressed and distorted by memory, age, and some unknown force.

Chinese, b. 1958, Kunming, China, based in Beijing, China