Zhang Xiaotao, ‘Untitled No.2 ’, 2013, Pékin Fine Arts

About Zhang Xiaotao

Behind Zhang Xiaotao’s grotesque and lurid paintings lie the artist’s sympathy for the suffering in civilization; he calls his works “magnified pictures of our material life, which is full of absurdity and lust.” Zhang’s common subjects include festering decay, human waste, abandoned structures, and animals associated with danger and contamination—like snakes, rats, and ants—which he paints in vibrant and highly magnified detail on a monumental scale. In one notorious series called “The Enlarged Prop” (2009), Zhang paints gigantic, neon-colored condoms floating in indiscernible substances, with anxiety-ridden faces articulated in their folds. The paintings also have in their background reinterpretations of Chinese sexual manuals in a wallpaper-like pattern; the series is an oblique reference to China’s overpopulation and one-child policy.

Chinese, b. 1970