Eli Klein Fine Art is pleased to present Zhang Dali’s fifth exhibition and first solo show at the gallery. Zhang Dali’s New Slogan paintings are an elaboration on his previous series, further developing his interest in the current Chinese zeitgeist. The artist appropriates various Chinese government slogans which are phrases that characterize the sociopolitical climate of mainland China and are plastered around the city of Beijing. Phrases related to the One-Child Policy, industrialization, and national unity are mapped repeatedly onto the faces of various migrant workers which are in turn embellished by a seemingly infinite series of concentric circles.
The paintings are visually challenging, requiring almost as much work by the viewer to decipher as it took Zhang Dali to create them. The dizzying spiral motif has been screen-printed onto rows of hand-painted text. The subtle hues blend on the canvas and in the viewer’s eye to form a single coherent image. The repetitive nature of the text and circles not only reference Zhang Dali’s previous Slogans which were painted on vinyl, but also enforce the monotony of the phrases themselves. The Chinese government slogans reverberate across the painting like a record spinning on a needle. The effect is almost deadening. To drive the point home, patterns of flies swarm over some paintings like morbid wallpaper.
Zhang Dali creates an experience of emotional muteness. This act of repetition works on several levels. It addresses the role of the Chinese media’s encouraging specific sentiments, especially nationalism, in its citizens. By placing these phrases and shapes over individuals, he examines the psychological after-effects of this kind of subversive indoctrination.
This exhibition will be on view at Eli Klein Fine Art from April 4 through May 8, 2011. Zhang Dali will be present for the opening reception on Monday, April 4 from 6 – 9 PM.