Contemporary Gallery Kunming announces its final exhibition for the year, History of a Rebellious Child: Tang Zhigang New Works and Documents, which opened to the public on December 22, 2018. Curated by Lu Peng, with a curatorial team consisting of Luo Fei, Ma Ning, Su Jie, Xuan Hongyu, Zhang Guanghua and Zou Kunling, the exhibition presents forty years of the artist’s creations and documents alongside his latest works. In preparation for the exhibition, the curatorial team sifted through the artist’s collected body of notes, letters, studies, news clippings and other related materials to provide a comprehensive picture of Tang Zhigang’s developmental trajectory in life and art.
Tang Zhigang began his career in the People’s Liberation Army, where his skills at portraiture were quickly recognized, but he often bristled against the system and ran into trouble for his very human depictions of the difficult life on the battlefront, and the everyday lives of the soldiers. His reputation began to spread beyond the military and into the modern Chinese painting scene in the 1990s as he produced a series of experimental works, including the mixed media painting Group Portrait of an Era. He rose to international acclaim in the 2000s with Children’s Meetings, a series of realistically-depicted children in political settings engaging in decidedly adult power struggles. He continued painting in this style for several years, producing the series Chinese Fairy Tales and Never Grow Up. In these works, the children move out into a wider world, finding their way into increasingly precarious—and more universal—predicaments.
A grave illness in the early 2010s led Tang to deep reflection on his life, and to a major stylistic shift in his painting. The tight realist techniques and refined brushwork gave way to a much more painterly feel and an erratic color scheme. The subject matter also grew decidedly broader to touch on universal aspects of the human condition. This exhibition dedicates an entire floor—the newly opened 8th floor exhibition space—to these new works, with most of them being presented for the first time, providing visitors with an in-depth look at the artist’s latest creative direction.
History of a Rebellious Child: Tang Zhigang New Works and Documents is the largest exhibition of the artist in a decade, and his most comprehensive showing in Yunnan Province. The exhibition will be on view until March 11, 2019.