(Original language: Mandarin)
ZHANG PEILI: In reality, the Gloves series was created in 1985 that is, after '85 New Space'. In fact, many questions were considered after '85 New Space', including questions about certain creations in as well as certain changes of attitude towards painting and art.
You could say that choosing this subject matter was coincidental or inevitable. I don’t know, but I want to talk about the feelings around this object at that time. It seems that we are all familiar with gloves and no one will say they do not know them. However, gloves can lead to all kinds of messy associations. You can associate them with sex, a corpse, or a body. You can also associate them with a kind of protection or that of an intrusive feeling. What I feel is that as a symbol, a pair of gloves is absolutely open for interpretation, but it is also visually ambiguous. That is what I like about it. The way to paint gloves is to tone down the colour to the lowest level, basically, like an advertisement. What I thought is, with patience, anyone who has received a little training could paint them.
That is why, at that time, I planned to paint this series, and in particular to make the gloves… how to put it? Almost identical. Very alike and greatly repetitive so you cannot see where the difference lies. The differences are very slight and the name X? [the name of the series], given later, is just as paradoxical.
Zhang Peili takes us through the concept behind his X? series in this video from the Inside the M+ Sigg Collection series. He had aimed to produce dozens of nearly identical paintings in the series by reducing technical and compositional changes to a minimum, to make the works seem like prints. In the end, he created around ten, but also wrote a manual with rules for reproducing the series. The mechanical approach and clinical subject challenge modernist ideas of art as self-expression.
In 1986, Zhang and Geng Jianyi co-founded the artist group Pond Society, one of the earliest conceptual art collectives, in Hangzhou. The collective’s goal was to deliver art from an academic context into public space through Happenings, installations, and collaborative works.
This video was originally published on M+ Stories.