Artist of the week: Zhang Dali

Zhang Dali (Chinese, b.1963) was born in Harbin, China, and studied at the Beijing Academy of Art & Design. After finishing school, he travelled to Italy, where he discovered Graffiti Art. In the 1990s, he was the only Graffiti artist in Beijing. Zhang became known for the 2,000 giant profiles he created of himself—completed between 1995 and 1998—seen throughout Beijing. The profiles of his bald head were intentionally placed alongside chai characters, which were painted by city officials as a way to indicate demolition. These images became subject of a media debate in 1998.

From 2003 until 2005, Zhang portrayed 100 life-sized resin sculpture of immigrant workers posed in numerous postures. Each sculpture or “worker” had a designated number, the artist’s signature, and the title, Chinese Offspring, tattooed to each of their bodies. Hung upside down, these sculptures commented on the fragility and uncertainty of life, as well as the lack of power these immigrant workers hold to change their own fates. Aside from Keith Haring (American, 1958–1990) and Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956), Zhang was one of the only artists to appear on the cover of Time magazine. He has exhibited his work at the International Center for Photography in New York, Courtyard Gallery in Beijing, the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, and Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo. In 2006, Zhang participated in the Gwangju Biennale in Korea. He currently lives and works in Beijing.



Chinese Offspring No. 209, 2010, synthetic resin, h: 149.9 x w: 69.8 x d: 25.1 cm



Unititled, 2012, Acrylic on vinyl, 152 x 122 cm


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