Little Church

Little Church

Zheng Li, Chinese, 1976
Born: China
Work Locations: China
Oil paint on canvas
Gift from Vicki and Kent Logan to the Collection of the Denver Art Museum
Zheng Li (Chinese). Little Church. 2004. Oil paint on canvas. Gift from Vicki and Kent Logan to the Collection of the Denver Art Museum. 2015.626.
height: 78 3/4 in, 200.0250 cm; width: 59 in, 149.8600 cm; depth: 1.25 in, 3.1750 cm
Modern and Contemporary Art
Modern and Contemporary Art

“Little Church” is a grayscale painting of two figures in front of a white background. One figure crawls on the ground while the other rides on the back of the first figure. The disconcerting figures appear to be babies and old men concurrently. The contorted and aged faces are out of place on the chubby bodies of the figures. 

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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