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Zhang Enli

Zhang Enli’s lyrical works on canvas are often inspired by seemingly ordinary objects, which can range from cardboard boxes to pieces of string, or aspects of everyday life, such as urban structures or landscape features. In such works, Zhang strives to capture the immaterial and essential qualities of the object, such as the implications of transparency, softness or flexibility. He is also known for site-specific installations that play with the historical echoes of their surroundings or across the interiors of specially constructed wooden pavilions. These immersive installations, which include his well-known Space Paintings and cardboard box structures, take their cue from psychological and emotional experiences, such as childhood memories or the sights and sounds of specific environments. Zhang's distinctive style—fluid, spontaneous and gestural—draws on both Eastern and Western painterly traditions. The flowing lines are reminiscent of traditional Chinese brush painting, for example, whereas visible grid lines point to the Renaissance technique of ‘squaring up’. He is a master of colour and light, preferring to work in thin washes of paint and clear, crystalline colours with dark contrasts. Zhang's lightness of touch lends his oeuvre an ethereal, harmonious and deeply evocative quality.

Zhang Enli (b. 1965, Jilin Province, China) lives and works in Shanghai. Selected solo exhibitions include Expression, Long Museum Shanghai, China (2023); Portrait, He Art Museum (HEM), Guangdong, China (2023); A Room with Colour, Long Museum Chongqing, China (2021); A Room That Can Move, Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2020); Zhang Enli, K11 Foundation, Shanghai (2019); The Bird Cage: a temporary shelter, Galleria Borghese and the Uccelliera, Rome (2019); Gesture and Form, Firstsite, Colchester (2017); Zhang Enli, MOCA, Taipei (2015); Landscape, Museo d’Arte contemporanea di Villa Croce, Genoa (2013); and Space Painting, ICA, London (2013).

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Selected Images

Selected media

  • Zhang Enli on A Traveller (2024)

  • Zhang Enli

    Exhibition walkthrough of the exhibition at Xavier Hufkens (2019)