An exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Chinese artist Zhang Enli opens this summer season at Hauser & Wirth St. Moritz. Unfolding across both floors of the gallery, Zhang Enli. Looking Outwards showcases work from the past decade, all connected through Zhang Enli's remarkable use of colour and line. Born in the province of Jilin in China in 1965, Zhang Enli relocated to the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai in 1989 where he continues to live and work, a transition that greatly affected his artistic practice and the evolution of his painting.
The title of the exhibition, Looking Outwards, draws on this relationship between country and city, encouraging us to look beyond the metropolis and onto the peripheries. The first floor of the gallery in St. Moritz presents a range of works on paper, including a series from 2019 that depicts dynamic, curvilinear forms in watercolour, coloured pencils and oil pastels. The exhibition also includes new watercolours from his Born in the year of the 'Tiger' series (2021) which have not before been displayed in Europe.
Using the outside world as a mirror, Zhang Enli also documents the more prosaic aspects of contemporary urban life, often representing ordinary objects and individuals in his paintings. Though abstract in style with loose and free brushstrokes, his recent works are anchored in figuration with descriptive titles alluding to archetypal urbanites, such as A Melancholic Person (2019) and _The Surgeon _(2020). Zhang Enli's expressive lines and curves are always underpinned by the structure of his pencil-drawn grids. Influenced by the washes of traditional Chinese brush painting, Zhang Enli dilutes his paint until it is almost like a glaze, leaving grids visible beneath the layers of paint. By allowing the pencil marks to show through the painted surface, Zhang Enli constantly reminds us that his paintings are artistic constructs, not direct representations of any given object or individual.
Press release courtesy Hauser & Wirth.