Zhang Enli - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Shanghart Gallery, Shanghai

  • Catalogue Essay

    Standing against the mainstream, Zhang Enli’s practice does not tackle issues of consumer criticism such as ‘Political Pop’ or ‘Kitsch Art’, which was the focal subject of most of his Chinese contemporaries in the wake China’s post-socialist society of the nineties. Rather, Zhang’s body of work consists primarily on the portrayals of everyday objects that are frequently overlooked.

    A Pile of Boxes 2009 is an emblematic example of Zhang’s distinctive manner of painting every day objects. It depicts, as the title articulates, a pile of boxes. Its personal domestic quality entices the viewer to identify with the boxes and recognize them not simply as insignificant features, but rather as being invested with life. There is a tension between whether the boxes are empty or full, which speaks to the viewer’s desire of uncovering what lies inside them. The diluted painterly gestures show influence of the washes of traditional Chinese brush painting. They deliberately appear unfinished and sketch-like, transforming the ordinary into the beautiful, while making us aware of the essence of painting. He does not attempt to give his objects further significance. Instead, he liberates them from their dominant symbols and metaphors that one invests in them to construct a social hierarchy.

    Selecting visual material from anything close at hand- whether it may be a string, an ashtray or a lavatory - the artist takes us on a journey into his world. Zhang records details of the most ordinary aspects of contemporary life, from such a unique perspective that they are elevated to the status of art.


A Pile of Boxes

oil on canvas
100 x 100 cm (39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in.)
Signed and dated lower left. Further signed, titled and dated in Chinese on the reverse.

£50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for £50,000

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm