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Comrades with Red Baby belongs to the set of twenty lithographs from "The Storyteller's Enchantments of Zhang Xiaogang", which comes as a limited edition of 130 rare books. Inspired by family photos from the Cultural Revolution period, as well as the European tradition of surrealism, Zhang Xiaogang’s lithographs engage with the notion of identity within the Chinese culture of collectivism though during Mao´s regime.
"I think most people can understand. Art is not science. It doesn't have to be accurate. Art is a feeling, a state of mind. That's the most important thing." —Zhang Xiaogang
Basing his work around the concept of ‘family’ –immediate, extended, and societal – Xiaogang’s portraits depict an endless genealogy of imagined forebears and progenitors, each unnerving similar and distinguished by minute difference. With their visages masked in soft shadows and rendered slightly out of focus, Xiaogang heightens the sense of inconsequential identity; only the eyes are fully illuminated, hollow and clone-like, perfect identikit transplants hallmarking the succession of ductility over will.
The colour schemes, such as black and white, translate the language of photography into painting incorporating a nostalgic aesthetic to the traditional Chinese drawing. The occasional splashes of colour and red lines running through the paintings carry a substantial part of Xiaogang's symbolic language, connecting the three characters as a family during the Mao regime. The edition of Comrades with Red Baby is based on the painting Bloodline (Two Comrades with red baby), created in 1995 that is now part of the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.