contemporary art

Zhang Dali

China 1963

Installation, Sculpture, Conceptual Art, Photography, Painting

Zhang Dali
Zhang Dali
March 8, 2015

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.

Zhang Dali was born in 1963 in Harbin, an industrial city in Heilongjiang Province, in northeastern China. He studied at the Beijing Academy of Art and Design. After finishing school, he traveled 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.

Zhang is interested both in the political ramifications of these alterations and the delicate artistry the censors practiced in their adjustments of the historical documents.

In his ongoing project A Second History, Zhang acts as an archivist of sorts, locating images in Chinese archives – books, periodicals, and other publications and print media – and researching their history. His work uncovers the role of photographs in state propaganda during the regime of Mao Zedong, documenting the retouching, coloring, and other changes – such as the removal or addition of people and pictorial elements – made to photographs by state censors.

Chinese Offspring is one of Zhang’s best known works. Consisting of 15 cast resin figures suspended from the ceiling, each sculpture is a representation of a migrant construction worker, a vast underclass who contribute to the modernization process at it most visible level. According to the artist, immigrant workers who have traveled from the rural areas all over China to earn a living in construction sites in Chinese cities, are the most important members of the Chinese race, who are shaping our physical reality. From 2003 to 2005, Zhang has portrayed immigrant workers in life-size resin sculptures of various postures, with a designated number, the artist’s signature and the work’s title Chinese Offspring tattooed onto each of their bodies. They are often hung upside down, indicating the uncertainty of their life and their powerlessness in changing their own fates.

Zhang Dali has exhibited at museums and galleries worldwide. He has recently shown at the Saatchi Gallery in London, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. For the UCCA show, Christian Dior and Chinese Artists, he created a fabric-like portrait of designer John Galliano from a repeating pattern of his tag, AK-47, a sly variation on his paintings from the Slogan series.

Zhang Dali currently lives and works in Beijing.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumGroup/Solo
2014De Heus-Zomers Collection of Chinese Contemporary ArtMuseum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, HollandGroup
2014From graininess to pixel – Chinese Contamporary PhotographyShanghai Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2014EchoUnion Art Museum, Wuhan, ChinaGroup
2013Zhang Dali - Second HistoryMuseum of the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Art, Shenyang, ChinaSolo
2013Zhang Dali – A RetrospectiveEli Klein Fine Arts, New York, USASolo
2013The essence of ThingsMagda Gallery, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2013Individual Growth-Momentum of Contemporary ArtTianjin Art Museum, Tianjin, ChinaGroup
2013Chinese PhotographyGalerie Paris-Beijing, Brussels, BelgiumGroup
2013Voice of the UnseenCollateral Event at the 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, ItalyGroup
2013Hot Pot: A Taste of Contemporary Chinese ArtBrattleboro Museum and Art Center,Group
2013Aura and Post AuraThe First Beijing International Photography Biennale, Millennium Museum, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2013Incarnations Angers TheaterAngers, FranceGroup
2013Fuck Off 2Groninger Museum, Groningen, HollandGroup
2013One Square Meter – SituationLinda Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2013Spectacle ReconstructionBudapest Art Museum, Budapest, HungaryGroup
2013Dialogue and demolitionPhoto Phnom Penh 2013, Chinese House, Phnom Penh, CambodiaGroup
2013Aftermath21c Museum, Louisville, USAGroup
2012Zhang DaliLoft Gallery, Paris, FranceSolo
2012AK-47Stern Pissarro Gallery, London, UKSolo
2012Zhang DaliAutomne Galerie, Bruxelles, BelgiumSolo
2012RazePeking Fine Arts, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2012Faking it – Manipulated Photography before PhotoshopMET, New York, USAGroup
2012The Unseen at Guangzhou TriennialGuangdong Art Museum Guangzhou, ChinaGroup
2012Body Double: The Figure in Contemporary SculptureThe Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, USAGroup
2012Omen-2012Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai ChinaGroup
2011New SloganEli Klein Fine Art, New York, USASolo
2011World’s ShadowsPekin Fine Arts Gallery, Beijing ChinaSolo
2011Zhang DaliAdrian David Gallerie, Knokke-Le Zoute, BelgiumSolo
2011Guan XiGuangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, ChinaGroup
2011Speech Matters54th Biennale of Venice, Denmark Pavilion, Venice, ItalyGroup
2011Photo Spring Caochangdi - Arles in BeijingBeijing, ChinaGroup
2011New Photography 2011MoMA, New York, USAGroup
2010The Second HistoryGuangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, ChinaSolo
2010Zhang Dali18 Gallery, Shanghai, ChinaSolo
2010Zhang Dali – Extreme RealityTank Loft-Chongqing Contemporary Art Center, Chongqing, ChinaSolo
2010Reshaping HistoryCNCC, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2010Re-Visioning HistoryOV Gallery, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2010From New York to Beijing: Graffiti-Blogging in the Street Blade & Zhang DaliC-Space, Beijing, ChinaGroup
201041st edition of the Rencontres d’ArlesEspace Van Gogh, Arles, FranceGroup
2010Ame de ChineMagda Danysz Gallery, Paris, FranceGroup
2010Group ShowCastello di Rivoli Museo di Arte Contemporanea Torino, ItalyGroup
2010The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to todayThe Museum of Modern Art, New YorkGroup
2010Great PerformancesPaceBeijing Gallery, Beijing ChinaGroup
2010DimensionalityRedstar Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2010A Decade Long ExposureCAFA Art Museum, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2010Four DimensionsHong Kong Photo Festival 2010, Hong Kong, ChinaGroup
2010Is the world realThe 6th Lianzhou International Photo Festival, Lianzhou, ChinaGroup
2009PervasionHe Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, ChinaSolo
2009Il sogno proibito della nuova CinaPlazzo Inghilteraa,Turin, ItalySolo
2009The Second HistorySpace SZ Gallery, Beijing, ChinaSolo
2009Stairway to Heaven: From Chinese Streets to Monuments and SkyscrapersArt Center, Kansas City, USAGroup
2009Re-imaging AsiaThe New Art Gallery, Walsall, UKGroup
2009The very ConditionWall Art Museum, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2009Images from HistoryShenzhen Art Museum, Shenzhen, ChinaGroup
2009Transforming TraditionsVictoria H. Myhren Gallery, University of Denver, Denver, USAGroup
2009CollisionCAFA Art Museum, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2009From Style Writing to Art – Street Art Group Show18 Gallery, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2008The Road to FreedomRed Star Gallery, Beijing, ChinaSolo
2008SlogansKiang Gallery, Atlanta, USASolo
2008Re-Imagining AsiaHouse of World Cultures, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2008Go China - Writing on the WallGroninger Museum, Groninger, NetherlandsGroup
2008China GoldMusee Maillol, Paris, FranciaGroup
2008Logan CollectionSan Francisco MOMA, San Francisco, USAGroup
2008Exquiste Corpse: China Surrealm97 Gallery, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2008Guang Hua RoadMichael Schultz Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2008Christian Dior & Chinese ArtistsUCCA, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2008The Revolution Continues: New Art from ChinaSaatchi Gallery, London, UKGroup
2008SloganEli Klein Fine Art, New York, USAGroup
2007Chinese OffspringChinese Contemporary Gallery, New York, USASolo
2007Past forwardOriental Vista Art Collections, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2007La Cina e vicinaMediterranea Gallery, Palermo, ItalyGroup
2007Three Unitaryddm, Shanghai, China,Group
2007Red HotHouston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USAGroup
2007China NowCoBrA Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam, NetherlandsGroup
2007Unexpected – Out of ControlKu Art Center, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2007All our Tomorrows: The Culture of CamuflageKunstraum der Universitat, Luneburg, GermanyGroup
2007China Now-Lost in TransitionEli Klein Fine Art, New York, USAGroup
2006Zhang Dali: A Second HistoryWalsh Gallery, Chicago, USASolo
2006Great PerformanceMax Protetch, New York, USAGroup
2006Gwangju Biennnale 6th Edition - Fever VariationsGwangju, South KoreaGroup
2006Museum Sammlung Essl – China NowKlosterneuburg, Vienna, AustriaGroup
2005SublimationBeijing Commune Gallery, Beijing, ChinaSolo
2005Chinese Contemporary Sculpture ExhibitionMuseum Beelden aan Zee, HollandGroup
2005The Game of RealismBeijing Commune Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2005MayflyBeijing Commune Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2005WallMillennium Museum, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2005New Photography and Video from ChinaVictoria and Albert Museum, London, UKGroup
2004New Works by Zhang DaliChinese Contemporary Gallery, London, UKSolo
2004Me Me MeThe Courtyard Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2004Between Past and FutureICP, New York, USAGroup
2004Critical MassChinese Contemporary Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2003AK-47Galleria Gariboldi, Milan, ItalySolo
2003AK-47Galleria Il Traghetto, Venice, ItalySolo
2003Festival Internazionale di RomaL’Officina-Arte del Borghetto, Rome, ItalyGroup
2003China-Germany ArtFactory 798, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2003The Logan CollectionDenver Art Museum, Denver, USAGroup
2002HeadlinesChinese Contemporary Gallery, London, UKSolo
2002Beijing’s FaceBase Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
2002International Photography FestivalPingyao, ChinaGroup
2002The First Guangzhou TriennialGuangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, ChinaGroup
2002New Photography From ChinaThe Courtyard Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2001Hot PotKunstnernes Hus, Oslo, NorwayGroup
2001Contemporary Chinese PhotographyFinland Museum of Photography, Helsinki, FinlandGroup
2001Contemporary Chinese PhotographyOulu Art Museum, Oulu, FinlandGroup
2001China Art NowSingapore Art Museum, SingaporeGroup
2001Group ShowThe Courtyard Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2000AK-47The Courtyard Gallery, Beijing, ChinaSolo
2000SerendipityThe Japan Foundation Asia Center, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2000Food as ArtClub Vogue, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2000Artistes Contemporains ChinoisMusee des Tapisseries, Aix-en-Provence, FranceGroup
2000Thought Brand Meat MincerDongsi 8 Tiao, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2000Fuck OffEastlink Gallery, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
1999Dialogue and DemolitionThe Courtyard Gallery, Beijing, ChinaSolo
1999DialogueChinese Contemporary Gallery, London, UKSolo
1999Chinese Contemporary PhotographyBard College, New York, USAGroup
1999Unveiled Reality- Chinese Contemporary PhotographyChulalongkom University Museum, Bangkok, ThailandGroup
1999The world is yoursDesign Museum, Beijing, ChinaGroup
1999A visible spiritCypress College, California, USAGroup
1999Beijing in LondonICA, London, UKGroup
1999Food for ThoughtEindhoven, HollandGroup
1999Transparence Opacité?Aix en Provence, France and Aosta, ItalyGroup
1998UrbanityWang Shou Temple Art Museum, Beijing, ChinaGroup
199811th Tallinn TriennialTallinn, EstoniaGroup
1998Chinese Contemporary PhotographyLehman College, New York, USAGroup
1998Chinese Artists Group ShowChinese Contemporary Gallery, London, UKGroup
1997W ²+ Z ²- Multi-media and video ExhibitionGallery of the National Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, ChinaGroup
1995La Formazione della TerraGoethe Institute Gallery, Torino, ItalyGroup
1994Rivoluzione e ViolenzaGalleria Studio 5, Bologna, ItalySolo
1993Zhang Dali: Pitture a InchiostroGalleria Studio 5, Bologna, ItalySolo
1993Zona InternazionaleNeon Gallery, Bologna, ItalyGroup
1993Arte DeperibileSpazio Cultura Navile, Bologna, ItalyGroup
1992Collettiva di artisti cinesiIl Sigillo Gallery, Padova, ItalyGroup
1991Pittura su CartaGalleria Comunale, Ferrara, ItalyGroup
1989Wash Painting Exhibition by Zhang DaliGallery of the National Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, ChinaSolo
1989Wash Painting Salon in PekingCapital Museum (Confucius Temple), Beijing, ChinaGroup
1987Three Men ShowSun Yat-sen Park, Beijing, ChinaGroup