This oil painting depicts two adults and two children. The composition resembles a combination of two separate studio portraits of a family—a greyscale one of the parents and a smaller portrait of their children. The older child’s face is yellow and the toddler’s is pink. Red lines connect the figures, and faint yellow patches are visible on their faces. Dressed in clothes that recall China in the 1950s and 1960s, the subjects stare straight ahead with blank expressions.
Zhang Xiaogang began developing the Bloodline series in 1993 when he discovered an old family photograph. His portraits reflect his interest in the complexities and tensions in Chinese society, where the notion of family extends to people in the community. Here, red lines represent the connections between people. The faint yellow patches accentuate the unsettling depictions, while also marking them as belonging to a collective. Zhang accentuates the formalism of studio portraits through the stiff appearance and vacant expressions of his subjects.
Zhang Xiaogang (born 1958, Kunming) graduated from Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, Chongqing, in 1982. His paintings reflect the changes in Chinese society over the past three decades since the political and social upheavals of the Cultural Revolution. Zhang lives and works in Chengdu and Beijing.