Studio Sunday: Zhang Xiaogang

A photo of Zhang Xiaogang in his studio in Beijing


This Sunday, we’re taking a look inside the studio space of Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang. Born in 1950, Zhang is a noted figurative and surrealist painter, recognized for his large-scale, monochromatic paintings of human figures. Though trained in traditional Chinese painting techniques, Zhang adopted some western-influenced painting ideals early in his professional career, and the combination of the two disciplines has helped lead to his unique style.


Zhang’s studio space appears massive in the above photo, as big as Frank Stella’s, studio or even the space pictured in our studio feature of Chris Ofili. I love the look of the artist’s paintings hanging out in the background, as if watching over the artist’s new sketches.


This looks like a very studious studio space – there’s multiple tables full of art supplies and paper, and the whole place has the feeling of a warehouse or a factory. I’m sure that Zhang employs at least a few assistants to help him create his works.


Despite the vastness of the space, or perhaps because of it, there’s also a sense of neatness and organization here. Though Zhang is a painter, I don’t see any stained paint rags or even marks of color on his desk – either he works in a very methodical, neat fashion, or he does the actual painting in another space that isn’t visible from the angle of this photograph.


Zhang is noted for forming the South West Art Group with over 80 other Chinese artists in the mid 1980’s. Some of the work done by this group helped to lead the way into the Chinese Avant-Garde movement. While Zhang, like many other Chinese contemporary artists, was unable to exhibit his works public in China for many years, in recent decades the artist has gained a great deal of acclaim in his home country as well as abroad.

[image source]

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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