Poly 2007 Evening Sale:Tang Zhigang, Chinese Fairy Tales
Born in a family of soldiers and has spent about twenty years as a soldier, Tang Zhigang has known the lives of soldiers completely. He was once a poster designer in the propaganda of the Chinese People¡¯s Liberation Army. Then he took a part in the Battlefield Vietnam. After the war, he became a teacher in the department of oil painting of the Yunnan Arts Institute. These special experiences make him familiar with every aspect of lives in the army.
When he was a poster designer in the army, Tang Zhigang tried to find a way to express his own feeling toward human lives within the strict rules of propaganda. He found that it is cruel for either a sincere artist or an audience to be restricted by the formulas of political propaganda. In the hope that he could destruct the restriction of army paintings, he began to look for a certain art language, which could make the army lives ¡®normalized¡¯ so that human feelings could be expressed.
Since 1998, Tang Zhigang has taken children as his protagonists. It is important for Tang Zhigang because the change of protagonists ---- from adults to children ---- is the sign of the change of his art: he used to express his feeling directly before, while he would express his thoughts and feelings through metaphors now. There would be no more sharp conflict in his paintings, because he would criticize the reality cynically. He would construct a ¡®stage¡¯ and then make the real lives act on the ¡®stage¡¯. The Chinese Fairy Tale series is produced in this period.
The protagonists in the painting here are three children. Two of them are sitting on the rostrum. Their expressions are frightening, as if they are talking about the punishment of the third child, who is sitting on a chair on the left. The scene reminds us of the Cultural Revolution when people were easily to be punished without reason. However, the expression of the third child is not serious at all. He is watching the mating of a couple of dogs, with one of his fingers in his mouth. There was a balloon behind him and a toy car behind the dogs. All of these details indicate that the ¡®meeting¡¯ is merely a farce, though the two children on the rostrum take it ¡®seriously¡¯.
To some extent, it is correct for us to say that Tang Zhigang¡¯s paintings are a kind of farce. He mocks the cruel reality with his paintings. In doing this, he means to destruct the seriousness of army lives.