Pace Gallery presents an exhibition of new works by renowned contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang. Gathering together eleven oil paintings on paper, the exhibition focuses on the artist’s continued use of narrative scenes and portraits, through a lens of constructed memory and imagination, in exploration of the nature of painting, autobiography and emotional sensibility.
The paintings in the exhibition build on Zhang Xiaogang’s long-held interest in portraiture and narrative imagery with domestic scenes as his primary subject matter. However, in these recent works, a new compositional dynamic has emerged through the figures. In the artist’s earlier figurative portraits, such as the iconic Bloodline – A Big Family series, the subjects are presented in group formations, positioned in the foreground of the canvas. In these new portraits, a powerful weightlessness or instability emerges. The figures drift upon the canvas, balance on precarious wooden stools, and even float within a bathtub of water—projecting a sense of isolation and alienation from their environments.
With this new series, the artist has introduced collaged compositions into his practice, tearing and layering the paper material into textured works that emphasize the fragmentary nature of memory. The collage technique merges with the act of painting, with the two presenting corresponding executions of both physical and cerebral creation. Both the technical and figurative composition of the works reflect the artist’s broad interrogation of the nature of painting as a physical manifestation of the unconscious and as interpretive of individual and collective memory.Zhang Xiaogang, Jump No.1 (detail), 2018. Oil on paper, collage 194 cm × 86 cm (76-3/8" × 33-7/8") © Zhang Xiaogang, courtesy Pace Gallery