(Chinese, B. 1959)
Chinese Fairytale Series: Jade
signed 'Tang' in Pinyin; dated '07' (lower right)
oil on canvas
200 x 250 cm. (78 3/4 x 98 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2007

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

Tang Zhigang is best recognized for his series populated by children in uniforms holding satirical formal military meetings. While his Children in Meeting series pokes fun at the banality of bureaucratic officialdom during Mao's China, Tang's most recent canvases, Chinese Fairytales, is a departure from his previous works. The present lot, Chinese Fairytale: Jade (Lot 440), shows a group of small children scattered amid an ambiguous room space, eager in their pursuit to climb atop a gigantic mass of enigmatic jade-colored cuboids. Painted in 2007, during the pre-Olympic fever that swept China the height of the Beijing Olympic Games, Tang replaces the professional athletes are replaced by with toddler infants, suggesting a narrative composition where in which the children are performing scrambling up this glistening heap, competing with one another to be the first to plant a physical act to rise to the top where a small child sits at the apex holding a little red flag. Informed by both history and the present, Tang further examines the tension between ideology and reality in this painting to remind viewers of the harsh reality of pressure and heavy sense of competition in contemporary China, and he discloses his reflections over social contemporary changes through his continuous depictions of amiable children, a playful innuendo indicative of Tang's perspective that competition, even among children, is inevitable in China's current period of consumption and consumerism. Purely, Tang's witty rendition can be viewed as a way of easing the overwhelming reality that is inherent to China's past history and present.

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