Using the outside world as a mirror, Zhang Enli documents the more prosaic aspects of contemporary life. He regularly works with everyday objects that he is instinctively drawn to, for example a piece of string, a hose, or even a marble ball from the floor of his studio. Zhang Enli often magnifies his subjects until a specific fragment of a scene is depicted, as if enlarged through the viewfinder of a camera. This technique is especially present in recent abstract works such as The Garden (2017).Read More
Within his figurative works, the perspective of each painting is often skewed to heighten the drama of the object’s shape, or to enlarge its importance. Zhang Enli’s expressive lines and curves are influenced by traditional Chinese brush painting, but are always underpinned by the structure of his pencil-drawn grids. The muted tones and loose washes of paint make the objects seem removed, as if occupying a liminal reality where only the essence of the object is portrayed on the canvas.
In his series of installations, known as Space Paintings, Zhang Enli paints directly onto the walls of a room to create immersive, nostalgic environments. These range from the abstract, where colour and gesture recall sights and sounds of a particular place, to more figurative reproductions. The scale, and the lack of a traditional frame, alters the relationship between viewer and work, demanding the viewer retraces the steps of the artist and relives his experience of this physical space.
Text courtesy Hauser & Wirth.
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