Zhang Xiaogang (Chinese, b.1958) is a preeminent member of the Chinese avant-garde, whose Surrealist-influenced work focuses on the aftereffects of China’s Cultural Revolution, and the meaning of family, history, and memory in China today. Zhang was born in Kunming, in southern China’s Yunnan Province, and grew up during the Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong. His parents were forced into “study camps” while he was a boy, and Zhang was sent to a “reeducation camp” to perform hard labor as a young adult; these experiences directly impacted his art later in life.
Following the 1976 collapse of the regime, Zhang attended the Sichuan Institute of Fine Arts, where he was influenced by Vincent van Gogh, Millet, and the Surrealist movement. Zhang is best known for his Bloodlines series, inspired by his discovery of old family photographs, and reached international stature with the debut of his Bloodlines-Big Family series at the 1995 Venice Biennale. He has continued to explore issues of family, history, individualism, and Chinese life after the Cultural Revolution in his work, focusing most recently on themes of memory and interior spaces. Zhang has held solo exhibitions around the world, and currently lives and works in Beijing.