Zhang Xiaogang - Three Comrades

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SThree Comrades
(From the Bloodline Series)
Structural
* Oil on canvas
* 150 x 180cm
* Painted in 1994
* Three comrades is one of many family groups painted by Zhang Xiaogang in this series. * The painting depicts Zhang's 'comrades', whom can be seen as belonging to Chairman Mao's great 'revolutionary family' * The comrades hide their individual personalities and antiquities behind the facade of a standardised portrait. * Lacking in specific gender, they appear so similar that we are forced to search for subtle features - the turn of an eye or a pair of glasses - that decree their personality. * Similar to photographic conventions, he uses dramatic lighting effects and flat anonymous backgrounds to idealise his subjects. * The figures within his work are painted with a smooth pearly finish reminiscent of porcelain, but are lacking in emotion and turn detached faces to the world. * A common red thread connects all three figures

Subjective
* Zhang creates a sense of nostalgia in his compositions by utilising the conventions of the traditional Chinese photographer. * To the artist, these faces are symbolic of a society struggling to exist in an increasingly commodifed and dehumanised world. * Whist part of the ‘family series,’ ‘three comrades,’ expresses a different type of family. One which encompasses the ties between Chairman Mao's great 'revolutionary family.’ Postmodern

* Xiaogang is post-modern in his approach to painting, using oil paints in a manner which imitate a photographic medium. * His unique style incorporates blurred edges, shadows and water eyes in his faces. His practice of depicting the family’s facial features as almost identical, hints at China’s collective nature and makes a political statement. Cultural

* The thin red lines running through this painting represent the 'big family' ties - the 'bloodlines' - that connect the three comrades and bind them together as a group....
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