Zhang Xiaogang with Arne Glimcher at Art Basel Hong Kong, March 2015

Arne Glimcher loves our Zhang Xiaogang book!

The influential Pace Gallery founder, speaking at Art Basel HK, says it's 'unique in the lexicon of monographs'

Why, in an age when some of the world’s most successful artists choose to have their works manufactured by assistants on a near-industrial scale, should an artist continue to paint? It’s a question that one of China’s best-known practitioners of the art Zhang Xiaogang answered at Art Basel Hong Kong this weekend.

Zhang was speaking during a discussion at the Asia Art Archive space in Art Basel Hong Kong, as part of the launch of his new Phaidon monograph, Zhang Xiaogang: Disquieting Memories. Zhang continues to paint, he said, because in an age of video installations and polished steel balloon dogs, “choosing to paint is the new avant-garde.”

It’s an interesting position for Zhang to find himself in. Over the past few years he has slowly gained international recognition for for producing an incredibly powerful style of portraiture that blurs the distinction between biography, memory and official recorded history.


Zhang Xiaogang in Hong Kong
Zhang Xiaogang in Hong Kong

At the talk the 56-year-old artist explained how, for him and his contemporaries, Chinese art was once an underground practice. Times have changed; today his paintings are a fixture in many major museum collections – including MoMA, Tate Modern and the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney – and his works command millions of dollars at auction.

Despite the fame, and the concurrent rise of Chinese contemporary art, his work, and his accompanying book, remains distinctly personal. As the Pace Gallery founder and author of our Agnes Martin book, Arne Glimcher told eighty or so assembled print and TV journalists during a gala event at his gallery’s booth during the fair, the new title is "one of the most intimate art books written.”

“A very special book that is unique in the lexicon of art monographs,” he went on, “it will extend your perspective of what it is to be an artist and what it means to make art." For greater insight into what kind of perspectives Zhang’s new book offers, order a copy here.