Zhang Xiaogang

(b. 1958)

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(1958– )

Chinese painter born in Kumming. He has achieved a worldwide reputation with his ‘blood line’ series of paintings. These are deadpan images in monochrome or a restricted range of colours, showing full-face head and shoulders portraits of individuals or groups wearing the costumes of the Mao era. Usually there is an uneven patch spreading over the image, recalling the ageing of a photograph. Although there is no obvious comment made, for many spectators the paintings speak powerfully of the nightmare of the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s. The critic Yan Shanchan commented: ‘When personal feelings have to be expressed in disguise, communication with the past inevitably becomes distorted.’ The artist is rather more ambivalent, describing the ‘big family’ as both something we need to learn to ‘protect ourselves from’ but also something which embodies ‘power, hope, life, envy, lies, duty, and love’.

Subjects: Art.

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