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Zhang Xiaogang (Chinese, b.1958)
LOT ID: 66064
"Untitled" (Red Fist), from the "Memory & Amnesia" Series, 2006

Screenprint, Offset lithograph
18 х 23.1 in. (45.72 x 58.67 cm.)
Signed, numbered, and dated in graphite lower front margins.
Print/Casting Year 2006
Edition 88
Foundry/Publisher Gallery Artside, Beijing and Seoul
Lot description
Zhang Xiaogang. (Chinese, B. 1957). "Untitled" (Red Fist). 2006
From the formal "Amnesia & Memory" Portfolio. 2006.
Offset lithograph in colors, on Somerset 300g paper, loose (as issued), in excellent condition. Edition: 84/88.
(45.7 x 58.7cm.)

This print belongs to Zhang's iconic "Amnesia and Memory" portfolio of 12 color lithographs that includes a rare and poignant range of figural and representational imagery. Chinese Contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang's paintings and prints continue to set records on the primary and secondary markets, especially his figural works. This intense image of a bright red clenched fist against a grey background, is a surreal, intense example of the figural imagery and compositions that make the prints by Zhang among the most sought-after Chinese Contemporary works, world-wide. The red fist here is clearly a reference to Communist China and to resistance and rebellion, but illustrated here in Zhang's typical poetic manner.

Zhang Xiaogang is best known for sombre, yet somehow dreamy and poignant, depictions of families, children and objects. The apparent similarities in all the portraits and object express the homogeneity and collectively Zhang saw as hallmarks of this time in Chinese history. However, false colors and often small incongruous elements belie the consistent, smoothed simplified features of the original source imagery for his work, the conservative black and white, often retouched vintage "studio portraits" of families popular in China before the days of the Cultural Revolution, giving only a glimpse of the individual behind the image. With the widespread disappearance of the “family portrait” during the Cultural Revolution, these painted portraits and objects that occupied his home-life, become steeped in an air of memory, nostalgia and loss.

The artist was born in a province capital in South western China, and was eight years old at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. During this dangerous and turbulent time, the artist’s mother insisted he learn to draw in order to keep him inside as much as possible, hence the prints here of depicting hand to paper, often with ink spilled. Far from the original intention of hiding him from the world, this practice led Zhang Xiaogang to become indisputably one of the most recognizable and significant Contemporary Chinese artist today, and he has enjoyed this status since the earliest days of the international art market in China. According to Sotheby’s, “…these hallmark images have become nothing less than visual shorthand for the entire category known as ‘Chinese contemporary art’." A painting by the artist just set a record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a Contemporary Chinese painting.
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