Going Up and Down

Going Up and Down

2004
Artist
Zheng Li, Chinese, 1976
Born: China
Work Locations: China
Country
China
painting
Oil paint on canvas
Gift from Vicki and Kent Logan to the Collection of the Denver Art Museum
2015.625
Zheng Li (Chinese). Going Up and Down. 2004. Oil paint on canvas. Gift from Vicki and Kent Logan to the Collection of the Denver Art Museum. 2015.625.
Dimensions
height: 78 3/4 in, 200.0250 cm; width: 59 in, 149.8600 cm; depth: 1 1/4 in, 3.1750 cm
Department
Modern and Contemporary Art
Collection
Modern and Contemporary Art

“Going Up and Down” is a nearly grayscale painting of a figure facing the viewer in front of a white background. The figure has the chubby, round, bald head of a baby, but the distorted and strange expression on its face suggests a more weathered identity.

Zheng Li’s grayscale acrylic paintings capture the disillusionment, uncertainty, and pessimism present during the rapid modernization of China. The artist is known for his haunting images of strange figures based on the traditions of Chinese painting. During the Cultural Revolution, images of the “chubby baby,” a symbol of prosperity and good fortune among peasants, were systematically destroyed. The “chubby baby” was appropriated as propaganda by the Communist Party and has been reappropriated by third generation contemporary Chinese artists as a symbol of China’s tumultuous history. Zheng’s subjects are often babies, but rather than painting innocent and gleeful infants, he portrays them participating in obviously adult activities – smoking cigarettes or playing with guns. His figures personify the innocence and world weariness that China’s population has experienced since the Cold War.

Zheng Li was born in 1976

Known Provenance
Gifted 2015 by Vicki and Kent Logan to the Denver Art Museum.

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