Zhang Xiaogang: Homeland

2006. 04. 22-05. 26

The Inside and Outside series by Mr. Zhang Xiaogang demonstrate a new style of socialism, a trend which first emerged in his portrait of Chinese faces since 1992 and only has been highly condensed in his In-Out series. And it is in this series that human figures are totally absent, only environment has been employed to take its place. The environment is the pictures the artist's parents are most familiar with, and also are the pictures that most strongly maintained in the artist's mind that will echo with the present the artist feels at any given time. It therefore reveals how memories are related to reality, the past and future. It evolved from "portrait" to "environment", a much broader concept, after Mr. Zhang Xiaogang's Family series as the result of the development of family cells.  Even though the environment contains both the concepts of “culture” and “society”, yet what the painter presented is not the society of modern times, but the one that retained in his mind and the one which should be mixed with the current environment. What will never change in his works are the linear figures of hand-drawn mast, electronic cord, and the string used to turn on a bulb, all these are indispensably descended from his previous the Big Family series. Let it be the inside or outside, these are views in Mr. Zhang Xiaogang's memories, with which the generation his parents are familiar, they keep giving the painter inspirations he needs. 

Mr. Zhang used warm color in his drawing to present inside view, in another word, a corner of a home, by doing so, he wanted to implicate that "home" is need for warm powers in people's memories. He outlined the features of an ideal home in his mind and combine them with the present social environment, so an utopia that he believed should be existing and preserved is clear to viewers. This exhibition is an outward expansion and is also the maturing of the painter himself, it relied heavily on the power of images. Television set that average household can afford makes the wide spread of images possible. Mr. Zhang presented images that people find familiar, like those from The Heroic Young Generation, a movie that the painter knows well, and no stranger to many other people who went through that period of time as well. Those Images stand for warm, upbeat and persistent spirits that once vividly existed. And therefore a distinguish difference which is visual, logical and philosophical has been shown in contrast to our modern day life. 

The painter himself intended to create a new global angle of view as well through this distance to establish the relation between a narrative content and its dreamlike appearance. We are not mistaken if we interpret Zhang’s art as surrealism, but we are wrong to consider that his works are not based on reality.  His works just transcend the reality that already existed; his works go beyond the modern society where desires and individualism prevail. By doing so the painter shows his struggle, he broke away from real life, he showed strong desire of returning to his own utopia.

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