Tang Zhigang was born in Kumming in 1959 and currently lives in Beijing. and teaches oil painting at the Yunan Institiue of Fine Arts. He spent many years with the Chinese Army. At one time Tang was an student of advanced studies at the Central Academy of Fine Art but in 1989 he graduated from the PLA Institute for fine arts. Tang Zhigang worked for the military as a chlildrens art educator. Tang Zhigang uses children as his main subject matter. In many cases the children are dressed up as military, political, or very important people. His message is mainly that China is being ruled by children. " Because it's good to remember that people are children too.
Notable solo and group exhibitions:
2008 "Beijing - Athens, Contemporary Art from China", Greece;
2007 "Never Grow Up, Tang Zhigang: 1977-2007, Retrospective", Hyundai doArt Gallery, Beijing;
2005 "Chinese Fairytale", Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong;
2004 "Tang Zhigang", Galerie Enrico Navarra, Paris, "The Army Show", New York;
2003 "From China with Art", National Gallery of Jakarta, Indonesia;
2002 Basel International Art Fair, Basel;
2000 "Chinese Avant-garde Exhibition", De La Vilette Museum, Paris, "Children Meeting", Hanart T Z Gallery, Hong Kong; "Moment: Chinese Contemporary Art", University of Chicago Art Centre, Chicago.
Tang has captured the absurdity of the bureaucracy of institutional life in the most charming manner. The message is succinct without being banal, and the style is as easy and fluid as the subject matter dictates. Tang uses the technique of realism usually associated with social cause and egalitarianism; we think of Soviet art and public-minded American painter after the Depression. It is a style accessible to the common man, mindful of his dignity whatever his station in life. It also suggests serious-mindedness, which becomes the poker-faced, dead-pan, tongue-in-cheek flip of Tang's joke.
For Tang, the laugh is as much on himself as on others. He was born into a family serving in the military. His mother was a prison warden and he grew up with convicts and soldiers, familiar with both the ones who discipline and ones being disciplined. He served in the army as a career soldier, working mainly as an artist in the propaganda division until his dismissal a year ago. He was trained in the system, knows its machinery and sees the human dimension beneath the rules. From the late 1980s, Tang's works have focused on the incongruities and absurdities that put the spark of humanity into a regimented life. He probably had the last laugh when he was finally dismissed in 1996. Now he is an artist, and teaches children's art classes.