Zhang Enli - INTERSECT: Online Auction Hong Kong Wednesday, September 21, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Shanghai based artist, Zhang Enli, is globally revered for his painted depictions of everyday objects rendered with fluid gestures inspired by traditional Chinese brush painting.
    “[What is] most interesting is the complexity of humans. Humans are like blenders. Humans mix up with what they see, feel, have-everything-together.” — Zhang Enli

    Executed in 2013, the present work The Backlighting (ZEL_6632) exemplifies Zhang’s exquisite capability to capture the beautiful and stirring details in the mundane. Tactile in texture, the image depicts hues of sapphire blue peek through the mysterious black background. The soft backlighting cast a layer of haze, evoking a response from the viewer that stem from both visual perception and inner feelings. The composition is both quiet and evocative, as Zhang focuses on the essence of sensory experience to unveil the subtle beauty of objects often looked, thereby opening the viewers’ eyes to a more poetic way of experiencing our world.



    Zhang Enli, Balls, 2011
    Sold by Phillips Hong Kong on 4 December 2020 for HK$2,898,000


    Zhang has presented numerous exhibitions across the globe, including in the United States, Hong Kong, Hungary, Switzerland, and Germany, with his most recent institutional solo show taking place at Long Museum, in Shanghai, China in 2021. Zhang’s works are collected by museums and private foundations around the world, such as the K11 Art Foundation in Hong Kong, and Tate in the United Kingdom.

  • DAW Chinese Contemporary Art Collection: A Collector’s Story


    DAW was exposed to and fascinated by western contemporary art through attending Art Basel and working in New York in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was collecting western Pop art, a reflection of the rising industrialisation and economic power in the 1960s and 1970s.


    When visiting Shanghai and wider China for the first time in 1997, DAW quickly felt the shift from communism to capitalism and was introduced to Lorenz Helbing, a Swiss and owner of ShanghART Gallery. DAW was intrigued by the quantum shift in economic growth, infrastructural mega projects, and the fast social adoption by the Chinese people. This shift was reflected in the Chinese Contemporary Art driven by creative and free-spirited artists. DAW was immediately attracted by the strength and power of this art.


    With the support of Lorenz, DAW visited most of the represented artists in their studios and started to collect works from many of China’s most significant artists, including Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Enli, Wang Guangyi, among many others….. Recently, PHILLIPS spoke with DAW about how he entered the art world and the evolution of his collecting journey.


    Portrait of DAW by Xue Song, 2003
    Portrait of DAW by Xue Song, 2003

     PHILLIPS: How did your path to collecting Chinese Contemporary Art begin? Do you recall what the first piece was you acquired?


    DAW:  I took my time to visit many galleries and artist studios, before buying my first Chinese Contemporary Art pieces, since I wanted to deeply understand the market (I guess a very Swiss approach). Finally, I bought my first pieces from Xue Song, Geng Jianyi, Ding Yi and Zeng Fanzhi at once through ShanghART in 2002.


    PHILLIPS: Looking back over your collecting journey, how have your tastes evolved?


    DAW: When the Chinese Contemporary Art market started to take off through the first pieces appearing at auctions in 2006-2007 (for example, Zeng Fanzhi shot in the world auction ranking from position 4,968 in 2004 to 28 in 2007), a new and younger generation of artists emerged with different views and topics reflecting the quantum shift and the fast-changing world. I started to visit these younger artists and collecting their artworks.


    PHILLIPS: You are truly an engaged collector in that many of your works have been purchased directly from the artists’ studios. Is it important for you to meet artists in person?  


    DAW: I am a very curious person and like to meet interesting people. Therefore, it was natural for me to meet the source of inspiration and understanding more about the creators.


    PHILLIPS: What is the focus regarding the artists in your collection? Do you feel there are themes that unites the works you have acquired? What inspires you in this category of art?


    DAW:  To simplify it, I guess that my collection is all about faces, scapes (land and city) and objects. It all goes back to the people, their country, and creations.


    PHILLIPS: What advice would you give to a collector who is just starting out? What criteria should one set for oneself when collecting?


    DAW: First of all, it is important to collect what you like (unless you see art as alternative investment asset). Second, I never saw myself as a collector, as I was passionate about living with the art pieces. Third, if you are buying into new art (like I did at that time) and it does not cost too much money (all relative of course), do not worry too much. If the price tag is heavier, carefully look at the artist works portfolio and evolution, understand the role of the gallery representing the artist and check out potential auction results.


    PHILLIPS: Apart from art, are there any other interesting categories that you’ve collected in? Does this relate to your art collecting habits or philosophy in any way?


    DAW: I was into Asian antiques, vintage cars, watches, and furniture and of course into books, music, films and wines. It was all about surrounding myself and enjoying the most beautiful things of what life has to offer. 


    PHILLIPS: From your point of view, what are the key trends shaping the future of art collecting and collection management? Which part of the technological advances today excites you the most?


    DAW: Collecting art (like many other categories) has become a lot easier and transparent with the birth of the internet. With the birth of blockchain technology in 2009, art collecting and collection management will move more digital. This does not mean that physical and traditional art media will disappear, but it will be more and more digitally depicted. Blockchain and NFTs are a game changer for traditional and digital art. The last two years of the Covid19 pandemic have perpetuated this shift.

      • signed and dated '2013 Enli [in Chinese]' along the lower edge; further signed, titled and dated '"The Backlighting" 2013 Zhang Enli [both in Chinese]' on the reverse

      • oil on canvas

      • work 40.4 x 38.3 cm. (15 7/8 x 15 1/8 in.)
        frame 42.5 x 40.5 cm. (16 3/4 x 15 7/8 in.)

      • Painted in 2013.

    • Provenance

      ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai
      Acquired from the above by the DAW Collection in 2013

DAW Chinese Contemporary Art Collection


The Backlighting (ZEL_6632)

signed and dated '2013 Enli [in Chinese]' along the lower edge; further signed, titled and dated '"The Backlighting" 2013 Zhang Enli [both in Chinese]' on the reverse
oil on canvas
work 40.4 x 38.3 cm. (15 7/8 x 15 1/8 in.)
frame 42.5 x 40.5 cm. (16 3/4 x 15 7/8 in.)

Painted in 2013.

Full Cataloguing

HK$150,000 - 300,000 

Sold for HK$189,000

Contact Specialist

Hin Hin Wong
Associate Specialist, 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2013

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2031

Charlene Lau
Head of Jewels, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2039

INTERSECT: Online Auction

Online Auction 21 - 28 September 2022