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Zhang Xiaogang (Chinese, b.1958)
LOT ID: 66062
Untitled (Telephone) from the "Amnesia and Memory" Portfolio, 2006

Screenprint, Offset lithograph, offset lithograph with screenprint
18 х 23.1 in. (45.72 x 58.67 cm.)
Signed, dated and numbered in front lower margins in graphite by the artist.
Print/Casting Year 2006
Edition 88
Foundry/Publisher Gallery Artside, Beijing and Seoul
Lot description
This work is printed on 300g Somerset velvet paper, loose as issued, and in excellent condition. This is edition 84 of 88.

This offset lithograph in colors belongs to the iconic "Amnesia and Memory" Portfolio of 12 different images that all demonstrate a stunning range of rare and poignant figural and representational images by Chinese Contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang. Untitled "Telephone" is a visually arresting print of an old-fashioned rotary, black telephone, above which a bare bulb hangs, with a patch of yellow and Zhang's iconic 'life' line in red running through the scene. This is a surreal and sublime example of the imagery and compositions that make the prints of Zhang among the most sought-after Chinese Contemporary works, world-wide.

Zhang Xiaogang is best known for sombre, yet somehow dreamy and poignant, depictions of families, children and surreal narratives. 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 one source “…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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