Zhang Xiaogang

Zhang Xiaogang is best known for his Big Family series which he has been working on since 1993. The spark for these works came from old family photographs. What interested the artist was the complexity of life and emotions behind the family scenes portrayed. The concept of a big family in China goes far beyond one's immediate family and the ties of family blood. Collectivism is an inherent part of Chinese social history and the ties of social and cultural blood are very strong forces indeed.

In his paintings the artist captures the superficial homogeneity of the collectivity through the smooth, unblemished faces and evenly staring eyes - touched up as they would have been in the photographers' studio. Small idiosyncrasies, one crossed eye, glasses, a mole, imperfect teeth or a wisp of hair gone astray, reveal individual differences. As Zhang Xiaogang says we live in a big family, the first thing we learn is how to shut ourselves up in a secret small cell and pretend to keep step with all the other members of the Family.

More recent works by Zhang Xiaogang of the Amnesia and Remembrance series deal with the workings of memory. The artists is interested in how memory can be selective and often inaccurate. Here the artist draws upon elements of his very early work prior to 1993, light bulbs, open books with writing, pens etc. Also, he is creating large scale canvasses of great empty urban scenes where the weight of recollection is palpable.

Chinese Contemporary is assisting the Sara Hilden Art Museum, Tampere, Finland with a major exhibition of Zhang Xiaogang's works to be held in the autumn of 2007.




Born in Kunming


Graduated at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, Chongqing

Currently living and working in Beijing

Selected Solo Exhibitions


Zhang Xiaogang, Sara Hilden Museum, Tampere, Finland


Amnesia and Memory, Gallery Artside, Seoul, Korea

Home-Zhang Xiaogang, Beijing Commune, Beijing, China


Zhang Xiaogang 2005, Max Protech, New York


Umbilical Cord of History Paintings by Zhang Xiaogang, Hong Kong Art Center, Hong Kong


Forget and Remember, Galerie de France, Paris


Zhang Xiaogang 2000, Max Protetch Gallery, New York


Les Camarades, Galerie de France, Paris, France


Bloodline: Big Family-1998, Hanart Taibei Gallery, Taiwan


Bloodline: Big Family-1997, Gallery of the Central Academy of Faine Arts, Beijing, China


Lost in Dreams, Gallery of the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, Chongqing, China

Selected Group Exhibitions


Half-life of a dream: Contemporary Chinese art from the Logan Collection, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA

Writing on the Wall: Chinese New Realism and Avant - Garde in the 80s and 90s, Groninger Museum, The Netherlands

Encounters, Pace Wildenstein, Beijing, China

Avantgarde China: 20 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art, National Art Center, Tokyo, Japan


Society Art, Moscow , Russia

Starting from the Southwest, Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou, China


Mahjong - Chinesische Gegenwartskunst aus der Sammlung Sigg, Hamburger Kunsthalle,     Hamburg, Germany

China now: Kunst in Zeiten des Umbruchs, Sammlung Essl - Kunsthaus, Klosterneuburg,     Germany


Food and Desire, South Silk Road. Beijing, China

Plato and His Seven Spirits, OCT Contemporary Art Center, Shenzhen, China

Reinventing Books in Chinese Contemporary Art, China Institute Gallery, New York, USA


Regeneration - Contemporary Chinese Art from China and the U.S., Arizona State University     Art Museum, Tempe, USA


Mahjong - Chinesische Gegenwartskunst Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, Germany

The Second Triennial of Chinese Arts, Guangzhou Museum, China


Stone Face BANG - Chinas first group printing exhibition, Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern     Art, Shanghai. China

Shanghai 5 Biennale: Techniques of the visible, Shanghai Biennale - Shanghai Art Museum,     Shanghai, China

Contemporary Lithography Group Exhibition, L.A. Gallery Beijing, Beijing, China

Zhang Xiaogang, Galleria Davide Di Maggio, Milano, Italy


From China with Art, Indonesian National Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia

Chinese Contemporary Art, Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest,     Hungary

Chinart, Museo dArte Contemporanea Roma, Rome, Italy


BABEL 2002, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea

Chinese Modernity, Armandao Alvares Penteado Foundation, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Image is Power, He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China

Paris-Pekin, Espace Cardin, Paris, France

HINaRT, Museum Kuppersmuhle, Duisburg, Germany


The Initial Image: Contemporary Art on Paper, Yibo Gallery, Shanghai, China

Hot Pot, Kunstnemes Hus, Oslo, Norway

Towards a New Image, 20 Years of Contemporary Chinese Painting, National Gallery, Beijing, Shanghai Art Museum, Sichuan Province Art Museum, Chengdu and Art Museum of     Guangdong Province, Guangzhou, China

Passe-murailles, Musee de Picardie, Amiens Rouges, Galerie Loft, Paris, France

C'est Moi, C' est Nous, Galerie de France, Paris, France


Portraits de Chine Contemporaine, Espace Culturel F. Mitterand, Perigueux, France

Futuro, Contemporary Art Centre of Macau

Kwangju Biennial, Kwangju, Korea

The Dutch Gasunie, Groningen, Holland, Netherlands

The Chengdu Movement, Canvas International Art, Amsterdam, Netherlands


Inside Out, Asia Society, New York, MoMA San Francisco, Seattle, Monterey

8+8-1, Selected Paintings by 15 Contemporary Artists, Schoeni Gallery, Hong Kong


Avant Garde Chinese Artists, Soobin Gallery, Singapore

China Now, Kulturprojekte, Basel, Switzerland

Faces and Bodies of the Middle Kingdom, Chinese Art of the Nineties, Gallery Rudolfinum,     Prague, Czech Republc  


CHINA! Kunstmuseum, Bonn, travelled to Vienna, Singapore, Copenhagen and Warsaw

Four Points de Rencontre: Chine 1996, Galerie de France, Paris, France


Asia Pacific Triennial, Australia

Reckoning with the Past, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland


46th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Avant Gardes Artistiques Xineses, Centre d'art Santa Monica, Barcelona, Spain


22nd International Biennial of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil


New Art from China: Post-1989, Marlborough Gallery, London, England

Chinese Fine Art in the 1990s: Experiences of China, Chengdu, China

Mao Goes Pop, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia


Guangzhou Biannual, Guangzhou, China


I Don't Want to Play Cards with Cezanne, Asia Pacific Art Museum, California, USA


China Avant Garde, China National Gallery, Beijing, China