“The material world constructs and controls our nervous system, and can make us feel agitated and troubled. When we keep calm and quiet, we realise that the world under our control is only a small part of the universe, certainly not the whole. The shadows I document exist only for a very short time, but through the photogram technique I capture them, so they can exist for a much longer time, in front of our eyes, and under our gaze.” Zhang Dali
Zhang Dali 张大力, China’s most well known graffiti artist, stopped tagging buildings marked for demolition and construction in 2006. However, his deep-rooted connection to urban street life remains very much at the core of his practice. Economic reality and government policy work together to push city dwellers away from traditional homes at street level into high - rise concrete apartment blocks. Artists including Beijing-based Zhang Dali witness and record this remarkable transformation, with outrage, concern, helplessness, and finally, wry resignation.
Zhang Dali’s practice is research-based, recording daily encounters with the urban space of his living and working neighborhoods on the outskirts of Beijing, surrounded by vacant lots slated for redevelopment. His aim – whether graffiti or cyanotype or marble statuary - is steadily consistent: Immediate contact, unalterable direct impressions of everyday life at street level. Using the shadow-subjects of cyanotypes and the full body casts of sculpture-figures, the artist records a rapidly disappearing street life: Depicting the hyper – realist, monumental nature, of urban “survivors” – both human and vegetative - he steadfastly chronicles big city change and traces what remains.
More information: Zhang Dali's works on Pékin Fine Arts gallery website