Tang Zhigang (B. 1959)
Tang Zhigang (B. 1959)

Children in Meeting Series

Tang Zhigang (B. 1959)
Children in Meeting Series
signed 'Tang' in Pinyin; dated '99' (lower right)
oil on canvas
128 x 160 cm. (50 3/8 x 63 in.)
Painted in 1999
Sotheby's New York, 21 March 2007, Lot 1
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
Hanart T Z Gallery, Meeting In Painting: Tang Zhigang, Hong Kong, China, 2004 (illustrated, p. 76).

Lot Essay

The subjects of political bureaucracy and the military fill the landscape of Tang Zhigang's artistic oeuvre. The artist's father was a Red Army officer, and Tang himself subsequently became a successful member of the military, rising up the officer ranks. He served in the political department, where he was responsible for propaganda. While in the army, Tang he had the opportunity to train as an artist and studied at several institutions, including the Oil Painting Department at Nanjing Art Academy and the Xu Beihong Studio at the Central Art Academy. He graduated from the art academy of the People's Liberation Army in 1989.
In Children in Meeting (Lot 483), six children in formal military uniform, five raising their hands, sit behind two long tables covered in red cloth. The artist plays on the eastern symbolism of the colour red, which embodies power and authority. The farcical faces on the children add humour to the otherwise static and monotonous atmosphere. Tang's extensive experience working as a children's art teacher at the Yunnan Art Academy gives him a unique insight into the social interactions and behaviour of children. His works reveal his belief that all adults have infantile antisocial traits that they disguise behind a diplomatic curtain of polite decorum.
The curtain in the background is a recurring and significant motif in Tang's work. Growing up in communist China, the artist's life was recorded in numerous family photographs and official portraits. These photographs were always taken in front of a simple cloth curtain. The theatrical setting and the standard poses were customary in order to project respectability. Perhaps the artist is lampooning such false pretenses, so often necessary on bureaucratic occasions.

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