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Zhang Xiaogang 张晓刚

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Zhang Xiaogang was born in 1958 in Kunming in Yunan Province in south China and now lives and works in Beijing. In 1982, he graduated from the Oil Painting Department at the Sichuan Academy of Arts in Chongqing. Zhang belongs to the first generation of Chinese artists educated in the Post-Cultural Revolution period, when schools were reopened after being shut down for ten years. His visual language is greatly inspired by magic realism and photo-realism, and he cites Gerhard Richter, Frida Kahlo, and René Magritte as artists he strongly admires. In the 1980s, his works consisted of dismembered animal and human bodies rendered in an Expressionist style. Zhang was visiting scholar at the Kunsthochschule in Kassel in 1992, when he visited the documenta IX and saw major collections of European art in the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Afterward, he developed his major work, Bloodline: Big Family series, which was first shown in the exhibition The Other Face: Three Chinese Artists, as part of a larger international exhibition Identità e Alterità during the 46th Venice Biennale. Inspired by photo-realism and Chinese family portraits made during the Cultural Revolution, these paintings engage the collective memory and reflect the problem of identity of Chinese people. Recently Zhang has been creating paintings with multimedia elements, which are often rendered with illusionistic pictorial space and written texts on the picture plane.