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Zhang DALI

  • Biography

Born in 1963 in Harbin
Graduated from the Central Academy of Art and Design
Now lives and works in Beijing

Zhang Dali has worked on many subjects and with several techniques. He is a multifaceted artist, always experimenting in new ways to express the reality beyond reality, expose social problems and human condition. He uses painting, graffiti, sculpture, photography, installation and performance.

In his own words: “I think there are 3 very important and significant works I produced in the last 20 years. One is Dialogue: at the time I was focusing on the change in the city and its social environment, I was very angry, the most important thing in a city are the citizens, they are the master of the city, not the bureaucrats, but our citizens have no power and no strength, it’s very painful.
The second is Chinese Offspring: I started to focus on a larger group of people, not only the city residents. I think people are the most important living being of the environment, and the fact that a great part of the population are second class citizens is a humiliation for all of us. I therefore believe that, apart from the bureaucrats who detain power, all the rest, all of us, are mingong. We all have no power, no strength, no dignity. We are all live like zombies. I was even more in pain, because I realized that their future is my future and their destiny is my destiny, the condition of their lives is the condition of my life. There is no freedom, no equality and no respect. There is no meaning in earning more money and be walking dead.
The third work is Second History: from 2003 on, I started to focus on what is hidden behind the way of thinking of these people. This is the Weltanshauung, the cognitive orientation of the Chinese nation. It influences our lives in each aspect: from daily habits to life style, thinking habit and content, and the methods to handle problems. Each of us can’t just escape this destiny decided by the way of thinking. Through my artwork, this process is exposed, it can be seen where it’s coming from. In China, tradition has been extirpated, and people changed deeply, into people without roots.
It’s a very scary thing.


  • précision

Painting There are two most important series of paintings: AK-47 and Slogan. Both are portraits of common people. AK-47 is the violence sticking on each persons, the face is actually hidden behind the violence, but without the violence is left with no shape. Slogan uses a similar technique, where AK-47 is replaced by government slogans: an even more subtle violence, paternalistic and populist. Main exhibitions: Groeninger Museum (2008), Maillol Museum (2008), He Xiangning Museum (2009) Sculpture One Hundred Chinese and its development into Chinese Offspring express what the “great civilization of 5000 years” has produced in the present time. In the faces and bodies of the people it’s shown the condition of lack of dignity and lack of control over their lives. The sculptures are casted from people hired at labour markets and realized in resin. Man and Beast is a series of bronze sculptures about the dual nature of human nature. The animal part, often considered as “low”, it might be the part awaking humanity from a dream and helping to become more conscious. Main exhibitions: Museum Beelden aan Zee (2005), COBRA (2007), Saatchi Gallery 2009), The Meijer Gardens (2012) Photography Dialogue and Demolition is a vast work of thousands of graffiti spread around Beijing during the years 2000-2010 and is also the photographical documentation of the destruction of old Beijing. Main exhibitions: ICP (2004), Victoria and Albert Museum (2005), A Second History is a research work digging in archives to expose the sentient construction of a second history through the doctoring of images. It consists of 130 panels. Main Exhibitions: New Art Gallery Walsall (2009), Rencontres d’Arles (2010), Danish Pavilion at Venezia Biennale (2011), MoMA New Photography (2011) World’s Shadows is a series of cyanotypes (photogram) documenting scenes of life and nature. Started in 2009, it still in progress. Recent Installations Brownian Movement is a structure of metal scaffolds and body cast of migrant workers. The installation has been realized in full size (about 15x6 m) and in small size, with a single body (1x2 m). Main Exhibitions: Guangdong Art Museum (2010), Today Museum (2011)

  •  Event

“Voice of the Unseen”, Collateral Event at the 55th Venice Biennale, Arsenale Nord, Venice, Italy
“Aura and Post Aura”, The First Beijing International Photography Biennale, Millennium Museum, Beijing, China
“World’s Shadows”, Photo Phnom Penh 2013, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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