(Chinese, B. 1959)
Children in Meeting Series - Hong Kong No. 4
signed 'Tang' in Pinyin; dated '99' (lower right)
oil on canvas
130 x 162 cm. (51 1/8 x 63 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1999
Sale room notice
Please kindly note that Lot 1410 is dated by the artist.

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Felix Yip
Felix Yip

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Lot Essay

In China, the human social behaviour of "attending meetings" has become a unique social form adjusted to the fit daily life following Liberation. Holding and attending meetings became, in the bureaucratic military apparatus in particular, an endless daily routine. With these unnecessary, the attendees have no choice in their presence, and to fall into cycles of dullness, boredom and pretension. Since 1998, Chinese artist Tang Zhigang moved from depicting the quotidian activities of army life and instead has depicted children, standing in for adults, in these performances of social belonging and political correctness.
In Meeting Series - Hong Kong No. 4 (Lot 1410), three children straighten their clothes and sit at fastidious attention. For Tang, these children contain layers of symbolic meaning. They "symbolise a period and stage in human history, which will either grow, or remain green and naive". They also slyly suggest the ways in which the posturing of politics nowadays is the same as child's play. Tang transforms the details of the setting, with the children struggling to compose themselves, into a witty commentary of political life and adult behaviour.
From the eye-catching orange table cloth to the three-sided curtains which surround the scene, the artist makes selections to further the air of satire. The space is restricted in its depth and deliberately stage-like. The children's exaggerated adult-like expressions, postures and the carefully-arranged teacups suggest the discreet and petty ways adults compete for power. These delicately calibrated further suggest the ways in which adulthood is one continuous performance. With his Children in Meeting series, Tang has shown the similarities of children and adults, implying that adults are extending and enlarging the habits and defects developed during childhood. To Tang, who taught children painting in the army, attending the meetings of adult life are no different from observing children in a classroom, the primary distinction being the need to make immature and brutal behaviour with the supposedly civilized rituals of adult life.

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