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OIl on Paper
by Pace Hong Kong
Location: Pace Hong Kong
Artist(s): ZHANG Xiaogang
Date: 14 May - 12 Jul 2014

Pace Gallery is launching in Hong Kong with a new office, bringing one of the most famous Asian contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang’s latest oil on paper works to constitute its inaugural show.

The paintings of Zhang Xiaogang stem from his individual experience and memory. He utilizes narrative scenes to express his own personal history, story and emotional sensibility. His point of origin draws from the dialectic between history and reality, culture and society, collective memory and personal recollections, respectively, to advance his compositional aesthetic. Furthermore, on the surface of the canvas, Zhang blends the character of lyricality with surreality, imbuing the history of a generation of Chinese people with a wide applicability, while at the same time also assigning his own new vitality. Zhang Xiaogang was one of the foremost contemporary Asian artists to achieve recognition and familiarity overseas.

As early as the 1995 46th Venice Biennale, Zhang Xiaogang has exhibited his series of milestone significance, Bloodline: Big Family. This series involves monumental characteristics, using the commonplace old Chinese household picture to serve as the blue print. The center characters usually sport the imprint of the archetypical Mao Zedong era with their clothing; their bodies possessing birthmarks that have transmuted into scars. Furthermore, the slim red bloodlines that link them together reveal the blood relation between family members. Zhang Xiaogang treats memory as a course of events being unceasingly amended. In creating his later series, probing into remembrance, writing, private emotions and public narrative became the continuous theme. In another series regarding the classics, Green Wall, introduced green oil paint on the surrounding wall, which is a common symbol from a special period in Chinese history. The piece involved the human figure and a tacit object. The scene became one. Once again, Zhang delves into the difference between public and private space, slyly manipulating the place betwixt individual experience and private memory. In his newest creative works in oil paint, by means of once again observing carefully and realizing the intimate relations between family members, Zhang takes the complexity and concretization from the bloodline theme to form the main character’s mutual and interweaving vision, as well as each family member’s individual psychological projection and ego cognition that accompanies their familial role. Furthermore, he employs exquisite composition and atmosphere to build all kinds of boundless language micro-pulsing on the surface of the canvas. The end creation brings about the ideal, the fantastic, mental associations and desire interwoven together in a new multi-faceted dimension.

Zhang Xiaogang is an artist that unceasingly breaks through the concept of ego. From his early period he drew from the essence of German expressionism and Surrealism, utilizing rich religious and philosophical ideas and emphasizing the spiritual property of painting. From 1993 onwards, he began to exhibit his well-known Bloodline series, further stressing his human modular statement. Until 2010, Zhang began to produce two-dimensional drawings that transformed into three-dimensional sculptures. He used rustproof steel to act as the canvas surface involving the characteristics of bas-relief to achieve media synthesis. At the same time, he wrote in the Chinese traditional art style the most typical symbol to draw into the artwork into the present moment. Zhang combined silkscreen printing with the mastery of his own calligraphic skill. In his own artistic process, Zhang employed a tremendous amount of thinking and perception in the way in which he wrote the characters on canvas. This exercise proved to have an ulterior function, giving his painting’s modular silent objects and human characters a three-dimensional sculptural quality. Together, this amalgamated in the artist’s 2013 creative series of bronze casting sculptures in New York that received wide acclaim. In Pace Hong Kong’s inaugural exhibition, the artist used the formality of oil painting on paper, integrating the Western notion of Surrealism with the Eastern conception of classical art. The work is full of imagination and mystery, his subtle artistry on paper reflecting the zenith of skill.

-Pace Hong Kong

Image: © Zhang Xiaogang
Courtesy of the artist and Pace Hong Kong

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