Zhang Xiaogang

Painter with Mother as a Young Woman

1958- China

Zhang Xiaogang has won international acclaim for his series of paintings based on photographs of his family as well as other people. In this work, one of the earliest in the series, his self-portrait and the image of his mother in her youth drawn from an old monochrome photo are sealed within a rustic frame. While his mother, dressed in Mao suit, gazes silently at us beyond a sepia-colored veil, the artist's face, glowing yellow, exudes an eerie and haunting presence, appearing almost morbid. A thin red thread, representing the blood connection between mother and son, connects them to a TV projecting Tiananmen, a mysterious wooden box and a mournful rose, and allude to the complex relationship between the private stories of a family and the nation-state, or the 'Big Family.' The music score at the top is a popular Taiwanese tune from the time when the artist was working on this piece. This, together with the motif of the changing weather forecast, hint at the vicissitude of times. (HL)

Work description

Title Painter with Mother as a Young Woman
Name of the Artist Zhang Xiaogang
Year 1993
Medium oil on canvas
Size 148.5×178.5 cm