Zhang Enli's solo exhibition a portrait of the world

Wang Jie
A solo exhibition of contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Enli is currently underway at Long Museum West Bund.
Wang Jie
Zhang Enli's solo exhibition a portrait of the world

"Garden," 2005, oil on canvas

The exhibition, "Zhang Enli: Expression," is on display at Long Museum West Bund.

Long Museum West Bund saved its "golden time slot" for China's best-known contemporary artist Zhang Enli. Autumn is usually celebrated with a frenzy of art activities.

The retrospective exhibition includes around 100 works, including portraits from the 1990s to the early 2000s, everyday objects from the 2000s to the early 2010s, and abstract portraits from the early 2010s to the present.

Zhang Enli's solo exhibition a portrait of the world

"Big and Small Balls," 2012, oil on canvas

Zhang Enli's solo exhibition a portrait of the world

"Garden," 2005, oil on canvas

"This exhibition is not only a review of my art but also of society and the time," Zhang said. "I want it to be like a mirror in which everyone can see a reflection that is unique to him or her."

The exhibition begins with "lines," a reoccurring theme in Zhang's artistic work, and ends with his most recent blue abstract series, which was completed in 2023.

Zhang, who was born in Jilin Province in 1965, graduated from Wuxi Technical University's Arts and Design Institute in 1989. His solo exhibitions have taken place in many prestigious venues, and his work is preserved in various museums, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Tate Modern in London.

However, in comparison to his peers, Zhang's professional path was not as smooth. When some of them became famous in the 2000s, he was still dealing with German Expressionism alone in his studio.
Works from different periods of Zhang's career present a picture of his exploration of the art world over the last three decades.

His earlier focus on urban dwellers as well as his recent interest in abstract portraits have all shed light on his ongoing interest in people, objects, and places.

Visitors would find some of his earliest oil paintings, such as "Self-Portrait" (1987), "Lights Blocked by Colored Paper" (1990), and "Sad" (1992), painted when he was a young man full of hopes to become an artist.

However, due to the limitations of the materials available at that time, these works are modest in size. Human figures, still life, and abstract objects outlined against a red backdrop give a strong impression and shed light on some of his repetitive motifs.

"Everything is a portrait," Zhang once said. When portrayed in front of the viewers, common objects such as containers, paper boxes, desks, chairs, sinks, tube sand balls, and open-air still lifes such as the sky, trees, and garden discreetly render a narrative power.

Exhibit Info

Date: Through January 14, 2024 (closed on Mondays), 10am--6pm

Venue: Long Museum West Bund

Address: 3398 Longteng Ave


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