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Klein Sun Gallery
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Square
by Klein Sun Gallery
Location: Klein Sun Gallery
Artist(s): ZHANG Dali
Date: 26 Jun - 30 Aug 2014

Klein Sun Gallery is pleased to present Square, a solo exhibition of new sculptures, cyanotypes, and paintings by Zhang Dali on view. 

The name of the exhibition, Square, is a reference to Tiananmen Square. It highlights the energy, significance, and power of a place that Zhang Dali refers to as “holy” and "brimming with bright light." Widely known throughout the western world as the site of the 1989 demonstrations for democracy, the Square has become a symbol which is synonymous with oppression and surveillance. In this exhibition, Zhang Dali's reimagining of Tiananmen acts both as a recapturing of the holiness he finds there, as well as a personal declaration to resist oppression.

The sculptures in the series are pristine white fiberglass casts of migrant Chinese workers in their everyday clothing. Attached, above and amongst these free-standing casts, are flying and resting doves also cast in white fiberglass. The scene that the sculptures craft could be plucked directly out of Tiananmen Square, with one major exception—doves are nowhere to be found in this city center. These scenes are imagined, and Zhang Dali can only dream of seeing doves in Tiananmen. The free-flying birds represent the artist’s resolve to defy reality and reconstruct what Tiananmen symbolizes—wishing it was a place where thoughts, desires for the future, and an individual’s resolve are free to soar.

Square - Sketch is a group of paintings that were initially created solely as an outline for Zhang Dali to explore his desire to create the aforementioned body of sculptures. At the top of a sky-blue background, there are images of doves and disconnected human heads which reveal a blunt expression of the torment and simultaneous hope that underpin Zhang Dali's thoughts of Tiananmen Square. The complex and unexpected relationship shared between these ideas—decapitated heads, jovial movements of bodies, sky blue backgrounds, and doves—elevates these paintings past their initial existence as sketches, towards the refined form of expression found throughout Zhang Dali’s work.

The cyanotypes included in the show, which incorporate ink and are also are made with traditional Chinese rice paper, lure what appear to be graceful spirits. The white impressions of birds in flight are the shadows of doves, captured using a 150-year-old photographic chemical process. The blue of the background on which these white spirits fly, encourages viewers to see hope in the work, as it looks as if the birds travel through a clear sky. The crinkled rice paper and blotches of ink interrupt this pure hope and juxtapose not only Chinese tradition, but the reality that imperfections--even torment--accompany hope for the symbolic heart of China: Tiananmen.

*image (left)
courtesy of the artist and Klein Sun Gallery 

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