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20110509221508-zdaliwildsg 20110509220646-zdalidemo566 20110509220839-zdalif72_lg Artwork_images_323_431874_-zhangdali Artwork_images_159554_527080_-zhangdali Artwork_images_425114751_515002_-zhangdali Artwork_images_425114751_514022_-zhangdali 20110322211543-exhib_zd_nslogan_w Ak47_n
'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
Wind/Horse/Flag, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Wind/Horse/Flag,
2008, Mixed media installation
© Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein, NY
Demolition, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Demolition, 1999, Photograph
© Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein, NY
Dialogue P. 50, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Dialogue P. 50,
1997, Photograph
© Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein, NY
Untitled 	, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Untitled ,
2007, Neon and copper, 46 x 36 x 4.2 in
© Courtesy of the artist &Dranoff Fine Art
Suicide 	, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Suicide , Bronze, 93 x 73 cm
© Courtesy of the artist & Chinese Contemporary Ltd
Man and Beast 	, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Man and Beast ,
2008, Resin , 350 x 200 x 280 cm
© Courtesy of the artist & Eli Klein Fine Art
Slogan C9 , Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Slogan C9 ,
2009, Acrylic on vinyl , 200 x 180 cm
© Courtesy of the artist & Eli Klein Fine Art
New Slogan, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, New Slogan,
Acrylic on canvas, 2010
© Courtesy of the artist & Eli Klein Fine Art
AK47, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, AK47, 2005, Silkscreen
© Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein, NY
AK-47 (H9), Zhang DaliZhang Dali, AK-47 (H9),
2008, Acrylic on vinyl
© Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein, NY
Lei Feng Learns Shooting, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Lei Feng Learns Shooting,
2010, Silkscreen, oil on canvas
© Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein, NY
Dialogue pg. 22, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Dialogue pg. 22,
1995, 23.7 x 35.7 in.
© Zadok Art Gallery
Chairman Mao and Shepherd, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Chairman Mao and Shepherd,
1956*, 45" x 25"
© Walsh Gallery
Chairman Mao in Northern Shaanxi, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Chairman Mao in Northern Shaanxi

© Walsh Gallery
DEMOLITION - Dialogue, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, DEMOLITION - Dialogue,
mixed media , 46 x 35 inches
© Robischon Gallery
Mao in Yan\'an , Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Mao in Yan'an ,
© OV Gallery
Mao and Stalin , Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Mao and Stalin , 103X149cm
© OV Gallery
N.10. May 1958 Mao Zedong taking part into the volunteer labor, Zhang DaliZhang Dali,
N.10. May 1958 Mao Zedong taking part into the volunteer labor,
2006 , c-print , 24 x 44 inches
© Kiang Gallery
N.24. 1959 Chairman Mao with friends from Africa,Asia and Latin America, Zhang DaliZhang Dali,
N.24. 1959 Chairman Mao with friends from Africa,Asia and Latin America,
2006, c-print, 24 x 44 inches
© Kiang Gallery
New People, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, New People,
2008 , Synthetic resin , 25.9 x 18.5 x 23.1 cm
© Eli Klein Fine Art
Meditation, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Meditation,
2008, Bronze , 39 3/8 x 35 3/8 x 37 3/8 inches
© Eli Klein Fine Art
, Zhang DaliZhang Dali
© Courtesy of the artist & Pékin Fine Arts
 Slogan 79, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Slogan 79,
2010, Acrylic on vinyl, 59 x 47 1/4 inches (150 x 120 cm)
© Courtesy of the artist & Eli Klein Fine Art
Square No. 4, Zhang DaliZhang Dali, Square No. 4,
2014, Fiberglass and baking varnish, 78 3/4 x 41 3/8 x 27 1/2 inches (190 x 105 x 70 cm)
© Courtesy of the artist & The Klein Sun Gallery
, Zhang DaliZhang Dali
© Courtesy of the Artist and Pékin Fine Arts
Zhang Dali is a Chinese artist. After studying painting in China, he went to Italy, where he discovered graffiti art. He was the only graffiti artist in Beijing throughout the early 1990s, and is the first artist since Keith Haring and Jackson Pollock to be given the cover of Time magazine. From 1995 to 1998 he spray-painted over 2000 giant profiles of his own bald head on buildings throughout Beijing, pl...[more]

Interview with Zhang Dali

New York - ArtSlant editor Sophia Powers stepped into Eli Klein Fine Arts to speak with Zhang Dali about his recent solo show: “New Slogan.”  The artist had arrived with Klein moments before, having just returned from a meeting at MoMA where it was confirmed that Zhang will take part in an upcoming exhibition of six artists.  Bravo Zhang Dali!

Zhang Dali, Demolition, 1999, Photograph, 60x89.85 cm, Ed of 10; Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein, NY

Sophia Powers:  I’d love to hear how you got the idea for this latest body of work.  Your practice has always dealt with the public sphere, but how did you become interested in slogans specifically?

Zhang Dali: I’ve been taking pictures of slogans that I come across in the street for years now, and I feel they tell a story about how propaganda has changed through time.  These slogans tell a very important sort of history.  I was very surprised when I realized that no one else was addressing slogans and how much they are affecting people.  When I was seven or eight years old I remember how all the slogans were patriotic and now all the slogans are about money and the economy.  It struck me that keeping a record of how the nature of slogans changed was a way to trace the changing zeitgeist of China.  It’s clear that no one cares very much about politics anymore, just money.  What a dramatic shift!  Who knows what it will be like in the future…

SP:  But you must pass so many slogans in the course of your day.  How do you decide which ones to take a picture of?

ZD:  Every slogan that I’ve taken a picture of is one that moved me as I walked past.  I think that this experiential aspect of moving through the world is extremely important.  Artists shouldn’t just stay in their studio—they should go out and meet people!  They should be always in conversation with people from as many walks of life as they can.  I feel like it’s important for me as an artist to remain connected to all sorts of people, and it’s not difficult.  After graduation I felt in the same boat as many of the migrant workers that I paint— I had come from a small city outside of Harbin, so I feel a real closeness of experience.

SP:  But you don’t only reproduce the slogans in your work—you reproduce them in a series of very realistically painted portraits.  Who are the people that you are painting?  Do you use photos for them as well?

ZD: Yes, I paint from photos I’ve taken of workers, but it’s not important to me who the individual people are.  I want them to be able to represent anyone.  My point is how slogans are not only political—they are also profoundly psychological.  They are a reality that is stored in the brain of every single Chinese person.

Zhang Dali, Slogan 74, 2010, Acrylic on canvas, 120x150 cm; Courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein, NY

SP:  Are you worried about being able to show this work in China?

ZD: Well, I don’t see the work as critical in any way.  I’m not accusing the government of anything, I’m just reflecting what I see—a sort of transcript of reality, if you will.  The reality in people’s minds.

SP:  When you put it that way, perhaps the government would even be pleased that you see their propaganda as so effective!

ZD  (laughs):  Perhaps!

SP:  Do you plan to continue expanding your work on slogans?

ZD:  Yes.  In fact, I am very interested in extending this project outside of China.  I’m interested in the slogans of other countries as well, and how they transcribe history.  I’ve had the fortune to travel to almost every country in Europe, and I think the presence of slogans in these cultural contexts is as interesting as in China.

SP: Do you know what new country you would like to begin working in?

ZD:  I’m not sure yet…

SP:  What do you like to do when you’re not working?

ZD:  I love to write!  My first way of expressing myself was to write, and my first aspiration in life was to be a writer, believe it or not.  My second aspiration was to be an artist.  I think that’s why I have such a special interest in the written word.

SP:  Have you worked on writing for publication?

ZD:  I would love to publish something eventually, and actually I feel my writing is better than my painting!

SP:  What genre of writing do you do?

ZD:  Whatever comes into my mind I explore on paper.  I’ve been keeping a diary for many years now…I don’t know too many other artists who do that.  Perhaps when I’m dead someone will look at that.

SP:  You’re a real modern-day literatus!

ZD:  Well, I don’t think the idea of just being an artist is all that interesting.  What’s more important to me is being an intellectual and addressing society.  So many artists these days describe their so-called inspiration, but I don’t really believe in that.   Everything is a result of an intellectual process—it doesn’t just hit you!  Great art comes from using reason, not simply relying on emotion alone.


ArtSlant would like to thank Eli Klein and Zhang Dali for their assistance in making this interview possible.

--Sophia Powers


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