Eating #4

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  • Provenance

    ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007.

  • Literature

    Zhang Enli: Human, Too Human, exh. cat., BizArt, Shanghai, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Shanghai based Chinese artist, Zhang Enli, is widely celebrated for interrogating the mechanics of painting. With works collected by Tate Modern, London in 2007, he is among one of the earliest contemporary Chinese artists to be appreciated by prominent Western collections and galleries. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Zhang strategically avoids any political association in his oeuvre and engages himself solely with the depiction of experience and sensation. Inspired by German Expressionism in his earlier career, the artist concentrated on portraying the inner struggle and helpless frustration experienced by ordinary people in the 1990s. Since 2000, he gradually shifted his interest into tackling various subjects as disparate and mundane as still lifes, trees, the sky, and wire fences.

    Painted in 2000, the year marking the climax of Zhang’s early Portrait series, Eating #4 exemplifies the artist’s mastery of portraying psychological nuances. The present lot is one of the finest examples of the Portrait series to ever come up at auction. Rendered primarily in dark blue and crimson, Zhang deliberately applies the paint layer by layer, so as to make the wild brushstrokes visible, unchangeable and even a formative trait of the painting. This work presents a scene from a supposed festival feast with an overlooking perspective, creating a distance between the depicted figures and the viewer, thus allowing the latter to observe the complicated human nature as a bystander. Starting from the indifferent facial expressions of the people indulging in food at the table in the foreground, then to the flattery themed table in the mid-left with a distorted female offering massage and two males serving wine and cigarette for the central figure, finally to the strained forearm muscle in ochre and revealing vessels resulting from a conflict at the corner table, the viewer’s attention is easily drawn into the canvas by the zigzag dynamism of the carefully rendered composition.

    The art critic Li Xu once compared Zhang’s early works with The Scream by Edvard Munch and found “Zhang Enli’s works might rather be described as a long and flowing chant in the darkness, a chant for all the anonymous people in a moonless and starless night, with quiet all around and darkness hanging low.” (Li Xu, “Canto in Tenebris”, Zhang Enli, 1992-2000 Works, exh. cat., ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai, 2000, p. 11)

    Underneath the surface of eating as a pastime in this work, the actions of each figure are demonstrative of their social status rather than mere enjoyment, offering a probe into the life experience of the ordinary yet tenacious people.

  • Catalogue Essay

    張恩利是一位在上海生活的藝術家,他不斷專注對油畫的積極探討。其作品於2007年便被倫敦泰特現代藝術館納入館藏,屬最早一批得到西方頂尖收藏和畫廊欣賞的中國現代藝術家。張恩利與許多同期藝術家不同,他刻意在創作中避開任何政治元素,著重對個人體驗和感知的表達。他早期受德國表現主義啟發,在1990年代專注描繪平民百姓的內心掙扎和無助挫折。而自2000年開始,他逐漸把焦點放在靜物、樹木、天空和鐵絲,以另開生面的角度重新審視平凡事物。

    2000年是張恩利早期肖像系列的巔峰之時,《盛宴4號》便是此時的作品,彰顯他刻畫人物微妙心理的極高造詣,可謂是其肖像系列的典範之作。畫面以深藍和深紅色為主,顏料層層相疊,清楚可見狂放筆觸,不留修改空間,形成畫作的基調。觀者俯瞰眼下的節慶盛宴,與畫中人物保持距離,以旁觀者的角度慢慢審視其中的複雜人性。畫面前方一桌的人們面無表情,沉醉在美食當中;中間靠左一桌則盡是諂媚奉承,扭捏作態的女子為中間之人殷勤按摩,旁邊兩人則為他奉上美酒香煙;後方角落一桌看似正在爭執,個個磨拳擦掌,青筋暴現。觀者的注意力一下子便被帶入張恩利仔細編排構造的精彩畫面。

    藝評家李旭曾以蒙克的《吶喊》來比較張恩利的早期作品,他說道:「張恩利的系列作品更像是黑暗中低沉而綿長的吟唱,唱給那些無名的人們,而此時此刻,星月無光,四野寂寥,夜幕低垂。」 (李旭,〈黑暗中的吟唱〉,《張恩利1992-2000年作品》(展覽圖錄),上海,香格納畫廊,2000年,第11頁)

    表面的宴席背後,人物並非純粹在大快朵頤,他們的身體語言不無透露出各人的社會地位,呈現百姓平凡卻堅韌的人生。

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Ο26

Property from a Distinguished Private Collection

Eating #4

2000
signed and dated 'ENLI 2000' lower right
oil on canvas
247.7 x 198.1 cm (97 1/2 x 77 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2000.

Estimate
HK$5,500,000 - 7,500,000 
€662,000-903,000
$705,000-962,000

sold for HK$4,880,000

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 28 May 2017