Zhang Dali’s Demolition (1999)

Zhang Dali, a contemporary Chinese artist, has had a long-term interest in the rapidly changing face of China’s urban environment. His first significant artworks focused on the demolition of old neighborhoods in Beijing and the displacement of their long-term residents. Yet regardless of his stated interest in other people as the subject of his art, the work itself, especially in the early phase, seems clearly focussed on his own mind.

In the early 1990’s Zhang, who had discovered graffiti art in Italy, placed an image of his own bald head on buildings in Beijing scheduled for demolition, in paint initially and later through other means. In the example at left we see a tree growing in his head, its branches echoing the pattern of neurons and dendrites in the brain. Thus, even though he placed the images next to an official decree scheduling the building for demolition and even though he himself has great concern for the poor individuals affected, the actual subject of his art is his own self. 

P.S. Is there a link, I wonder, between Zhang Dali's profile here and the presence of Dante's profile in Michelangelo's Last Judgment. Could he have seen the veiled profile while in Rome?

Captions for image(s) above:

Zhang Dali, Demolition, Time Plaza (1999)

Click image to enlarge.

More Works by Zhang Dali


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