Going Up and Down
- Zheng Li, Chinese, 1976
- Born: China
- Work Locations: China
“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
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