Thursday, 4 December 2008

Zhang Xiaogang






Inspired by family photos from the Cultural Revolution period, as well as the European tradition of surrealism, Zhang Xiaogang’s paintings engage with the notion of identity within the Chinese culture of collectivism. Basing his work around the concept of ‘family’ –immediate, extended, and societal – Xiaogang’s portraits depict an endless genealogy of imagined forebears and progenitors, each unnervingly similar and distinguished by minute difference.

Through his expansive clan of replica characters, Xiaogang questions notions of otherness, difference, and perception. His Untitled series magnifies uniformity to uncanny proportions. His paintings of faces, executed in monumental scale, are strangely macabre and dehumanised. Framed with the mug-shot candour of extreme close-ups, his figures lack any definitive features; they are the generic archetypes to which all Xiaogang’s figures aspire, triumphs of socially engineered conformity, interchangeable and anonymous. With their visages masked in soft shadows and rendered slightly out of focus, Xiaogang heightens the sense of inconsequential identity; only the eyes are fully illuminated, hollow and clone-like, perfect identikit transplants hallmarking the succession of ductility over will. (Saatchi)

2 comments:

karly hand - identity crisis said...

What I wouldn't give to have one of these over my fireplace. I'll take image #4, please.

Francois said...

Au printemps dernier, j'étais à Barcelone et j'ai vu une exposition sur le nouvel art chinois. J'ai été frappé par le talent mais aussi par cette imagerie à la fois très Pop d'inspiration mais aussi avec un côté politique très développé. Comme si les chinois découvraient la peinture alors qu'on semble la délaisser en occident.

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