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Thomas Ruff. Chinese pictures

45 min visit

David Zwirner
14 Jan → 6 Mar 2021
From Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed Monday and Sunday.

« Does Mao Zedong posing in front of brightly colored landscapes seem absurd to you? Discover unpublished propaganda images of the Great Helmsman!  »

Since 2019, Thomas Ruff has been working on the same series. Unpublished photographs first presented at the K20 in Düsseldorf and now exhibited at the David Zwriner gallery. The German artist has always been interested in different photographic processes. His practice diverges both in the devices used and in the subjects treated. He always works in series in order to experiment as much as possible with the medium used. With Tableaux chinois, Thomas Ruff turns to propaganda photography. He is particularly interested in Mao Zedong's period of governance in the People's Republic of China. As photography is one of the main propaganda tools there, the medium is directly confronted with the ability to imitate a false reality. It is this gap between the real and the absurd that the artist seeks in the making of his photographs. Thomas Ruff has bought many magazines featuring Mao, a paradoxical personality who particularly intrigues him. He wishes to represent this dichotomy between the political figure and the popular figure of the Chinese leader in a single image. To do so, he scans images from these magazines depicting soldiers, Maoist crowds or the president himself, which he enlarges until he sees the halftone dots due to offset printing. He then duplicates the image to convert the offset halftone into pixels. These duplicates are placed on top of the scanned photograph. At a glance you can see both the digital print and the digital structure of the image. As for the title of the series, it pays homage to the artist Erró who painted Chinese Pictures in the 1970s depicting personalities from communist China in pop colours. The exhibition in the Paris gallery coincides with Studio: Thomas Ruff, an online presentation on the gallery's website. Another solo exhibition, after.images, will be presented at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung in March 2021. Works from the Chinese Paintings series as well as photographs from fifteen other series will be presented.


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