The Beijing-based artist Zhao Bandi creates photographs of himself and his toy panda in a range of situations. Their “speech bubble” conversations, delivered with deadpan humour, consider a variety of issues facing contemporary society.
The panda is not only the artist’s companion but a symbol of China’s one-child policy and the messages in these works often parody Chinese State propaganda. Bandi explores the most irrational and absurd aspects of certain ideological campaigns that are still common in China. He also aims for a sense of displacement: the toy panda, the artist’s clothing and his expression, the setting and the dialogues are all carefully measured expressions of a very personal sense of humour.
Bandi’s photographic works draw on the language of advertising and of public service information and he often uses similar locations to exhibit his work. By presenting his images in these sites he reaches mass audiences with his creative messages.
The exhibition in Piccadilly Circus Underground station is a combination of images from a number of series of works made between 1996 and 2003. It is part of the largest public exhibition of Bandi’s work outside of China, showing simultaneously in four cities throughout the summer. Manchester Art Gallery, the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth will be showing Bandi’s work in a series of off-site shows and gallery-based exhibitions.