A gifted painter since childhood, Tang Zhigang (b. 1959) grew up in a military family in Yunnan Province, spending several years of his childhood living in the shadow of the Kunyang Labour Farm where his mother was a warden. Tang joined the PLA army directly after graduating from high school; as a career soldier he continued to paint and became known for his expressionistic and bluntly honest portraits of a soldier's life. In 1979 his battalion was among the forces sent to Vietnam for combat action in the Sino-Vietnamese conflict. In the late 1980s Tang entered the oil painting department of the PLA Art Academy in Beijing and began to explore a new language of visual iconography, drawn from personal and collective experience, of the chaos of everyday life lived within an overarching framework of military ideology and political controls. By the late 1990s Tang had created his iconic 'Children in Meeting' series, masterfully painted and ostensibly humorous scenarios of children dressed up as adult soldiers and political leaders and acting out the serious business of closed-door meetings and political conferences.