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ZHANG DALI ARTWORKS

MAGDA DANYSZ GALLERY


ZHANG DALI

张大力


Zhang Dali was born in January 1963, in Harbin, an industrial city in Heilongjiang Province, in northeastern China. Zhang Dali, also known as 18k and AK-47, is a Chinese artist who works in a variety of media. A provocative mix of graffiti, photography, and sculpture, his art highlights the rapid social change that has swept and unsettled China. Born in 1963, Zhang Dali lives and works in Beijing. Zhang Dali comes from a working class family. Zhang's parents "had never walked inside an art museum. Growing up during the Cultural Revolution, there was not much art to look at except political campaigns and comic books. I studied by myself.” In 1969, when Zhang Dali's father’s factory was relocated, his family followed, to Jingdezhen in Jiangxi. He attended the Changhe Airplane Factory Workers’ Children's School there until 1977, when his family moved back to Jixi, Heilongjiang. He then attended the Jixi Eighteen Secondary School and, in 1980, graduated from the Jixi Nineteen High School. At the prestigious Central Academy of Art and Design in Beijing, Zhang majored in traditional Chinese bookbinding but soon began painting abstractions and experimenting with non-traditional materials. Following his graduation in 1987, Zhang worked mainly on abstract, ink-and-brush paintings and became one of the first artists to move to a small village near Yuanmingyuan.


Zhang Dali Artist's bust, Bronze, 1999


In 1989, Zhang Dali traveled to Italy, a culture attuned to its architectural history. During a stay of several years there, Zhang discovered graffiti art, an event which altered his life and art, and jump-started his career. It was in Italy that he first spray-painted the stylized image in profile of his own bald head that would become the centerpiece of his signature series of more than 2000 larger-thanlife-size, outdoor artworks. Zhang returned to China in 1993 and settled in Beijing, where he conceived of the long running project Dialogue and Demolition. Since then Zhang Dali has proven his amazing inspiration and how multitalented is the artist. His art ranges from graffiti, documentary photographs, and texts, the Dialogue and Demolition series provides documentation, analysis and critique of the rapidly changing face of the Chinese capital. Zhang Dali's intentions are complex: He aims to call attention both to the changing character of Chinese society made emblematic in the destruction of long standing neighborhoods and communities, as well as to the increasing alienation linked with rapid modernization and rampant materialism. The "Dialogue" of the series' name points to his desire to directly involve viewers in a discussion of the issues his works invoke. This involves a Conceptual Art-derived attitude that it is the viewer who helps complete the work. Following the initiation of the Dialogue and Demolition series, Zhang Dali went on, starting in 1995, to make portraits of migrant workers' faces and resin casts of their heads or entire bodies.


The Dialogue and Demolition series In his well-known Dialogue and Demolition series, Zhang Dali spraypaints silhouettes of his head on walls of condemned traditional structures throughout Beijing. According to Lyn Stuart of Beijing Scene in her article "Dialogue: The Graffiti Art of 18K (Formerly known as Zhang Dali)": “If you have been in Beijing long enough to get in a taxi, then you have seen his work: profiles spray-painted on condemned buildings, freeway bridges and neglected walls all over the capital. You wouldn't notice them in a Western city because the simple drawings would be quickly sprayed over with graffiti done by thousands of other layabouts, vandals, artists and political groups. But Beijing has almost no graffiti and the heads compete for space only with notices telling you not to park in front of gates or dump garbage, advertisements for venereal disease remedies and the ubiquitous Chinese character- chai, indicating that the building is about to be demolished. In fact, many of 18K's tags are intentionally placed right next to "chai" characters. Not only is graffiti on doomed walls [less likely to earn him a criminal record], 18K also has artistic reasons for associating his heads with condemned structures: the work is an attempt to engage in a dialogue with Beijing, a city where buildings come down faster than they did in wartime Berlin and London.�

Zhang Dali Demolition: Forbidden City, Beijing, 1998, 1999 (1999), from the series Dialogue and Demolition. Chromogenic Print, 35x23.75 inches.


Zhang Dali Demolition: Forbidden City, Beijing, 1998, 1999 (1999), from the series Dialogue and Demolition. Chromogenic Print, 35x23.75 inches. Next double page : Demolition, Shanghai, 2000, from the series Dialogue and Demolition. Chromogenic Print, 35x23.75 inches.


Zhang Dali explains that he chose the name AK-47 “to stand for violence. This sort of violence doesn>t just mean one person hits another person.” Rather, Zhang Dali suggests that it means something larger: that the bull-dozing of huge tracts of the capital s traditional architecture to make way for yet another department stores is also a form of violence. His art of memory is one way of resisting destruction and demanding the re-orientation of social priorities. For most of the past decade, his strategy of tagging condemned buildings, rather than being accused of «vandalizing» public or privately owned structures-in-use, has paid off. The police have allowed Zhang--and his extant graffiti-works--to remain, a haunting elegy to pre-modern Beijing.


Zhang Dali Previous page AK-47 (DH12), acrylic on vinyl, 380x310 cm, 2008 This page : AK-47, acrylic on vinyl, 100x80 cm, 2009


Zhang Dali AK-47 (Q2), acrylic on vinyl, 100x80 cm, 2009


Zhang Dali AK-47 (Q8), acrylic on vinyl, 100x80 cm, 2009


Zhang Dali AK-47 (Q4)


Paintings : The Slogan series Zhang Dali’s recent Slogan paintings take the form of portraits whose subjects emerge from grids of either Zhang’s AK47- «tag» or from the slogans of the PRC and traditional Chinese moral philosophy. Each portrait depicts a migrant worker’s face, solemnly gazing at us. Some composition are made up of directives such as «Practicing good manners leads to a beautiful life» or «Promote Socialism and the construction of a harmonious society,» limned (both «written» and «painted») in one-inch-wide brushstrokes that produce the segments of each ideogram. Readable only at close range, these ideographic texts are the raw materials of Zhang>s compositions, which, when viewed at a comfortable distance, resolve into a «gestalt.» That is they transform the vague impression of eyes, a nose, and a mouth rendered in precise variations of the photographic greyscale into a veritable «mug-shot» of each joyless worker. Zhang’s style owes something to the contemporary New York painter Chuck Close, as well as to their shared forebear, the late 19th-century, Parisian, pointillist painter, Georges Seurat.

Zhang Dali Slogan (72), acrylic on canvas 150x120 cm, 2010


Slogan delivers a multi-layered but almost effortless political metaphor. Seen from a distance, the faces seem as banal, clichĂŠd as the slogans, and the slogans as trivial and negligible as the common faces. The migrant workers look harsh and lifeless, neither resentful nor joyful. The repeating of slogans used in each painting enhances the feeling of a deadly massiveness made by the masses. Bingxia Yu - art critic

Zhang Dali Slogan (77), acrylic on canvas 150x120 cm, 2010


SECOND HISTORY In his well-known Dialogue and Demolition series, Zhang Dali spraypaints silhouettes of his head on walls of condemned traditional structures throughout Beijing. According to Lyn Stuart of Beijing Scene in her article "Dialogue: The Graffiti Art of 18K (Formerly known as Zhang Dali)": “If you have been in Beijing long enough to get in a taxi, then you have seen his work: profiles spray-painted on condemned buildings, freeway bridges and neglected walls all over the capital. You wouldn't notice them in a Western city because the simple drawings would be quickly sprayed over with graffiti done by thousands of other layabouts, vandals, artists and political groups. But Beijing has almost no graffiti and the heads compete for space only with notices telling you not to park in front of gates or dump garbage, advertisements for venereal disease remedies and the ubiquitous Chinese character- chai, indicating that the building is about to be demolished. In fact, many of 18K's tags are intentionally placed right next to "chai" characters. Not only is graffiti on doomed walls [less likely to earn him a criminal record], 18K also has artistic reasons for associating his heads with condemned structures: the work is an attempt to engage in a dialogue with Beijing, a city where buildings come down faster than they did in wartime Berlin and London.�


May 1958 Mao Zedong taking part into the volunteer labour at the Construction Site of the Ming Tombs Water Reservoir


Zhang Dali The first Sport Meeting of National Army 1952


Zhang Dali Chairmain Mao at Xiyuan Airport, Beijing, March 1949 (violet) silkscreen and acrylic on canvas, signed and dated on the front by the artist 94x145 cm, 2010


Zhang Dali Cheng Zhuang School (red) silkscreen and acrylic on canvas, signed and dated on the front by the artist 156x119 cm, 2009


Zhang Dali Cheng Zhuang School (violet) silkscreen and acrylic on canvas, signed and dated on the front by the artist 156x119 cm, 2009


Zhang Dali Mao Yanan (yellow) silkscreen and acrylic on canvas, signed and dated on the front by the artist 94x145 cm, 2009


Zhang Dali Cheng Zhuang School (violet) silkscreen and acrylic on canvas, signed and dated on the front by the artist 156x119 cm, 2009


Zhang Dali Mao Zedong with Stalin, December 1950 silkscreen and acrylic on canvas, signed and dated on the front by the artist 156x119 cm, 2009


Zhang Dali At the University of the red Army silkscreen and acrylic on canvas, signed and dated on the front by the artist 156x119 cm, 2009


Zhang Dali Lu Xun in Shanghai silkscreen and acrylic on canvas, signed and dated on the front by the artist 156x119 cm, 2009


1994 “Rivoluzione e Violenza,” Galleria Studio 5, Bologna, Italy 1993 “Zhang Dali: Pitture a Inchiostro,” Galleria Studio 5, Bologna, Italy 1989 “Wash Painting Exhibition by Zhang Dali,” Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing, China Selected Group Exhibitions 2012 “Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY 2011 “New Photography 2011,” The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY The 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy “Black and White,” Zero Art Museum, Beijing, China “The Life and Death of Buildings,” Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ “Relationship,” Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China “Self Camera,” Changwon Asia Art Festival, Seongsan Art Hall, Changwon, South Korea “The Evolving Art,” Academy of Arts & Design at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China 2010 “Is the World Real?” 6th Lianzhou International Photo Festival, Lianzhou, China “The Original Copy: Photography of a Sculpture, 1839 to Today,” MOMA, New York, NY “Exhibition Exhibition,” Castello di Rivoli Museo di Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy “Four Dimensions,” Hong Kong Photo Festival, Hong Kong, China “Zhang Dali: A Second History,” 41st Edition of Les Recontres d’Arles,” Espace Van Gogh, Arles, France “A Decade-Long Exposure,” Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing, China “Dimensionality,” Red Star Gallery, Beijing, China “Great Performance,” Pace Beijing, Beijing, China “Ame de Chine,” Magda Danysz Gallery, Paris, France “From New York to Beijing: Graffiti - Blogging in the Street - Blade and Zhang Dali,” C-Space, Beijing, China “Re-Visioning History,” OV Gallery, Shanghai, China “Reshaping History - Chinart from 20002009-,” National Conference Center, Beijing, China “China’s Soul,” Magda Danysz Gallery, Paris, France 2009 “Chasing Flames,” Eli Klein Fine Art, New York, NY "Calligraffiti: ‘Writing’ in Contemporary Chinese and Chicano Art," Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, CA “Re-imaging Asia,” The New Art Gallery, Walsall, UK “Stairway to Heaven: From Chinese Streets to Monuments and Skyscrapers,” Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO “Chinese Prints,” Pace Prints, New York, NY “The Very Condition,” Wall Art Museum, Beijing, China “Images from History,” Shenzhen Art Museum, Shenzhen, China “Collision,” Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing, China “Transforming Traditions,” Victoria H. Myhren Gallery, University of Denver, Denver, CO “From Style Writing to Art – Street Art Group Show,” 18 Gallery, Shanghai, China 2008 “Five Years of Duolun,” Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China “The Revolution Continues: New Art From China,” Saatchi Museum, London, UK


ZHANG DALI 1963 Born in Harbin, China 1987 Graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Beijing, China Currently lives and works in Beijing, China Main Solo Exhibitions 2011 “Demolition: Second History,” The Charles Shain Library, Connecticut College, New London, CT “New Slogan,” Eli Klein Fine Art, New York, NY 2010 “Extreme Reality,” Tank Loft, Chongqing Contemporary Art Center, Chonqing, China “Zhang Dali: A Second History,” Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China “Zhang Dali Solo Show,” Magda Danysz / 18 Gallery, Shanghai, China 2009 “Pervasion: Works by Zhang Dali (19952008-),” He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China “Il Sogno Proibito della Nuova Cina,” Palazzo Inghilterra, Turin, Italy 2008 “Slogans,” Kiang Gallery, Atlanta, GA “The Road to Freedom,” Red Star Gallery, Beijing, China 2007 “Chinese Offspring,” Chinese Contemporary Gallery, New York, NY 2006 “Zhang Dali: Image and Revision in New Chinese Photography,” Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN “A Second History,” Ferst Center for the Arts, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA “Zhang Dali: A Second History,” Walsh Gallery, Chicago, IL 2005 “Sublimation,” Beijing Commune Gallery, Beijing, China 2004 “New Works by Zhang Dali,” Chinese Contemporary Gallery, London, UK 2003 “AK-47,” Galleria Il Traghetto, Venice, Italy “AK-47,” Galleria Gariboldi, Milan, Italy 2002 “Beijing’s Face,” Base Gallery, Tokyo, Japan “Headlines,” Chinese Contemporary Gallery, London, UK 2000 “AK-47,” The Courtyard Gallery, Beijing, China 1999 “Dialogue,” Chinese Contemporary Gallery, London, UK “Dialogue and Demolition,” The Courtyard Gallery, Beijing, China


2000 “Fuck Off,” Eastlink Gallery, Shanghai, China “Artistes Contemporains Chinois,” Musee des Tapisseries, Aix-en-Provence, France “Thought Brand Meat Mincer,” Dongsi 8 Tiao Performance, Beijing, China “Food as Art,” Club Vogue, Beijing, China “Serendipity,” The Japan Foundation Asia Center, Tokyo, Japan 1999 “Transparence Opacite?” Valle d’Aosta, Italy “Food for Thought,” Eindhoven, Netherlands “Beijing in London,” ICA, London, UK “HSIN: a visible spirit,” Cypress College & BC Space Gallery, Cypress, CA “The World Is Yours!” Design Museum Performance, Beijing, China “Unveiled Reality-Chinese Contemporary Photography,” Chulalongkom University Museum, Bangkok, Thailand “Chinese Contemporary Photography,” Bard College, Red Hook, NY 1998 “Chinese Artists Group Show,” Chinese Contemporary Gallery, London, UK “Chinese Contemporary Photography,” Lehman College, New York, NY 11th Tallinn Triennial, Tallinn, Estonia “Urbanity,” Wang Shou Temple Art Museum, Beijing, China 1997 “W ²+ Z ²- Multi-media and video Exhibition,” Gallery of the National Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China 1995 “La Formazione della Terra,” Goethe Institute Gallery, Turin, Italy 1993 “Arte Deperibile,” Spazio Cultura Navile, Bologna, Italy “Zona Internazionale,” Neon Gallery, Bologna, Italy 1992 “Collettiva di artisti cinesi,” Il Sigillo Gallery, Padova, Italy 1991 “Pittura su Carta,” Galleria Communale, Ferrara, Italy 1989 “Wash Painting Salon in Peking,” Capital Museum, Beijing, China 1987 “Three Men Show,” Sun Yat Sen Park, Beijing, China


“Logan Collection,” San Francisco MOMA, San Francisco, CA “China Gold,” Musee Maillol, Paris, France “Zhang Dali and Shen Shaomin,” Eli Klein Fine Art, New York, NY “The Avant-garde in the ‘80s and ‘90s of the Last Century in China,” Groningen Museum, Groningen, Netherlands “Guang Hua Road,” Michael Schultz Gallery, Beijing, China “Exquisite Corpse: China Surreal,” M97 Gallery, Shanghai, China “Go China!” Groninger Museum, Groninger, Netherlands “Re-Imagining Asia: Asian Coordinates,” House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany 2007 “All of our Tomorrows: The Culture of Camouflage,” Kunstraum der Universität, Lünenburg, Germany “Unexpected: Out of Control,” Ku Art Center, Beijing, China “China Now,” Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam, Netherlands “Red Hot,” Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX “Three Unitary,” DDM, Shanghai, China “La Cina e’ vicina,” Mediterranea Gallery, Palermo, Italy “Past Forward,” Oriental Vista Art Collections, Shanghai, China 2006 “Radar: Selections from the Collection of Kent and Vicki Logan,” Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO “China Now,” Essl Museum, Vienna, Austria “Fever Variations,” 6th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea “Red Star,” 798 Factory Red Star Gallery, Beijing, China “Great Performance,” Max Protetch, New York, NY 2005 “Wall,” Millennium Museum, Beijing, China “Mayfly,” Beijing Commune Gallery, Beijing, China “The Game of Realism,” Beijing Commune Gallery, Beijing, China “Chinese Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition,” Museum Beelden aan Zee, Scheveningen, Netherlands 2004 “Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China,” International Center of Photography, New York, NY; Asia Society, New York, NY; Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA; The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC “Critical Mass,” Chinese Contemporary Gallery, Beijing, China “Me! Me! Me!” The Courtyard Gallery, Beijing, China 2003 “The Logan Collection,” Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO “China-Germany Art,” Factory 798, Beijing, China “Festival Internazionale di Roma,” L'Officina-Arte del Borghetto, Rome, Italy 2002 “New Photography from China,” The Courtyard Gallery, Beijing, China 1st Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China International Photography Festival, Pingyao, China 2001 “Courtyard Gallery August Group Show,” The Courtyard Gallery, Beijing, China “China Art Now,” Singapore Art Museum, Singapore “Contemporary Chinese Photography,” Oulu Art Museum, Oulu, Finland “Contemporary Chinese Photography,” Finland Museum of Photography, Helsinki, Finland “Hot Pot,” Kunstnernes, Oslo, Norway


All Rights Reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the publisher. Printed in the PRC. Published by : MD Editions

Zhang Dali is a catalogue published by Magda Danysz Gallery (Paris / Shanghai)

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Zhang Dali