Author: ZHANG ENLI 张恩利
Signed and dated: Painted in 2013
Final Price: RMB 1,700,000
signed in Chinese, dated 2013
Private collection (directly brought from the artist)
Art should go deep, and the deep is subtle, not superficial, because painting is easily related to simple visual pleasure. This pleasure may make people easily understand painting as a kind of decoration, and then Despise its existence. Therefore, painting in my understanding should not be seen, but rather read.
As an observer and recorder of daily life, Zhang Enli, whether depicting human life or common daily objects in his paintings, focuses on one purpose that is to cognize and explore the secrets of the spiritual world through appearance. Zhang Enli’s early paintings are inspired by German Expressionism. His works express his feelings about his own survival dilemma through sharp contrast among colors, unrestrained brushwork and strong emotional atmosphere. After 2000, the theme of Zhang’s paintings has changed into everyday objects, such as containers, paper rolls, drain pipes, buckets, empty bottles and other indispensable but long been ignored objects in life, which are endowed with new formal beauty and cultural significance in an almost pious way of depicting sacred objects. For Zhang Enli, this change is not abrupt and fractured, but in line with the early painting, is only a transformation of rhetorical ways and explores the spiritual level of human beings through a single object or space. Just as he said: “The transformation from human beings to objects actually reflects the inner demands. In fact, I still paint people, just projecting people’s spirituality onto the material.”
“Gap” was created in 2013. Although the whole picture is like a crowded closed space filled with different shapes of block structures, the theme it expresses is actually “light”—Gaps are penetrable to light. In fact, this is a metaphor for the conflict between the closed inner world and the open outer world. Only through light as a guide can human beings get rid of the oppression and loneliness in the darkness. Therefore, light becomes a medium or a bridge to some extent. The composition of this painting is rich, with cool colors as the mainstay. Irregular circles and polygons are squeezed together. These figures are basically variants of circles, with different sizes and shapes as well as orderly and scattered arrangement, thus altogether to show a suspended state, which seems to be stones stacked layer by layer. Three water-tube-shaped objects are inserted into the gaps of these circles, which brings a variation to the unified sonata. The warm yellow light in the background is transmitted through the gaps between various patterns, which constitutes an obvious contrast between cold and warm colors. Zhang Enli has explored this composition form of “superposition of circles” in the drainage pipe series in 2011. When countless drainage pipes are stacked together, those deep holes are like whirlpools full of mystery. The artist expresses the feeling of “emptiness” through deformation and distortion. This painting is a continuation or sublimation of drainage pipe series, and explores people’s spiritual space in the modern world with the gap caused by the structure of geometric deformation.