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Duplicated Space No.1

Duplicated Space No.1
signed in Chinese, dated ‘1989.12’ (upper right of the right panel)
oil, collage, thread on canvas (diptych)
each: 65.5 x 50.2 cm. (25 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.) (2)
overall: 65.5 x 100.4 cm. (25 3/4 x 39 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1989
Schoeni Gallery, Hong Kong
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2004
Jonathan Fineberg, Gary G. Xu, Zhang Xiaogang, Disquieting Memories, Phaidon Press Limited, 2015 (illustrated, plate 29, p. 56).
Huang Zhuan (ed.), Zhang Xiaogang: Works, Documents and Researches 1981-2014 I, Sichuan Fine Arts Publishing House, Chengdu, China, 2016 (illustrated, plate 99, p. 168).

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Ada Tsui (徐文君)
Ada Tsui (徐文君)

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Lot Essay

In the 1980s, Chinese contemporary art entered the international art scene as a late bloomer. The unique perspective these artists cultivates is a crucial development of Chinese contemporary art. Independent, self-initiated, and freedom-loving, the early generation of New Wave avant garde Chinese artist created a movement that distinguished themselves from the traditional propaganda-driven art system. From the Stars Art Exhibition, to the '85 New Wave, and subsequently the Post '89 Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition held in 1993, a series of art movements represented the dawning of a new era. These participating artists integrate their personal experiences from current life into the innovative and contemporary ideas they put forth. By positioning themselves in the present moment and reflecting upon the past, they have created a new chapter in the history of Chinese contemporary art. Christie's is honoured to present early landmark paintings by masters including Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi, and Fang Lijun. These works are testaments to the paradigm shift in contemporary art as well as ideological changes that China underwent in the 1990s to the early 2000s. The academic significance and historical relevance of these work cannot be overstated.
Zhang Xiaogang's Duplicated Space series has a total of 13 works; the present work, Duplicated Space No.1 appears to be the only diptych that exists within this series. Additionally, only three of these works have incorporated tangible red threads extending to the edge of the canvas, connecting all the characters together. This red line is a signature motif that traces through Zhao Xiaogang's entire life, which makes this current diptych very precious and rare. The physical thread is also a prototype of the painted red line shown in artist's later period—Bloodline: The Big Family , which is a pivotal work to encapsulates the artist's paramount position in Chinese art history. The late 1980s to early 1990s saw major changes in China's social and political life, and this new state of affairs has caused a tramatic experience in Zhang Xiaogang's life. In the second half of 1989, Zhang's psychology and outlook changed significantly as he was forced to confront reality's cruelty and history's tragedy; therefore, in Duplicated Space No.1 , the artist took his complex emotions and structured them in the virtual space within the canvas. The arrangement in the two paintings are like sacrificial offerings on an altar, where two figures sit on the centre of the table—one with open and the other with closed eyes, covered by a piece of wrinkled cloth, with eyes staring into the far distance that seem hollow and hopeless, yet also filled with the looks of yearning freedom. Pessimism permeates the dark and gloomy scene, marking this work's intentionality and historical significance.


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