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March 18, 2023

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Zhang Xiaogang’s artistic approach to modern fable

Within the art community, the term “F4” refers to four of China’s most renowned and prolific artists, Zhang Xiaogang, Fang Lijun, Wang Guangyi and Yue Minjun, with their paintings selling for more than 10 million yuan (US$1.4 million) at auction.

Currently, Zhang is holding his solo exhibition at the Long Museum West Bund through May 7.

Titled “Mayflies,” the exhibition features his new paintings, all completed over the past three years.

As an indelible name in Chinese contemporary art, Zhang has witnessed firsthand the socio-cultural transformation of China and the world over decades, a phenomenon which has echoed with keen insight and penetrating wisdom in his art.

The exhibition features more than 80 pieces, which include oil on paper, oil on canvas, installations and preliminary sketches. The body of work provides a unique insight into the artist’s approach, reflecting current situations under the brush of an individual caught in the tides of history. The paintings present a sense of displacement with a somewhat fractured sense of reality.

The solo exhibition shows a clear path leading to Zhang’s unique artistic language, allowing visitors to see why and how this prolific artist made his breakthroughs.

The highlight of the exhibition is a series entitled “The Mayfly Diary.”

Each artwork is formed of pieces of hand-torn paper that have been subject to a complex process of recombination, puncture, engraving and dyeing. Zhang inherits the narrative power in his artwork. The unique approach to the medium, the continuous and cyclical structure, the confessional character and the dramatic conflict between the real and imaginary in memory are all impressive to viewers.

The “Stage and Light” series is another focal point of the exhibition. “Stage: Castle No. 3” incorporates partial elements from myth, imagination, fiction and reality into its 6-meter-long canvas, reproducing a vast structure of recollection, in which the passage of time shapes the inner lives of humans.

“My role is more akin to that of an architect, attempting to piece together from various components a kind of spaceship, a remote world in which the vastness of epic and the disorder of absurdity coexist to form a response to a well-known modern fable,” Zhang stated.

Date: Through May 7 (closed on Mondays), 10am-5:30pm

Venue: Long Museum West Bund


Address: 3398 Longteng Avenue



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