Zhang Xiaogang, ‘Young Man’, 2013, Phillips

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.)

From the Catalogue:
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.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: incised in Chinese with artist's signature, date, number and foundry mark "张晓刚 2013 3/3 PTX” on the reverse

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

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

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

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