Zhang Enli is a Chinese artist who has quietly conquered the Western art market. He was the first Chinese artist-in-residence at the Royal Academy last year, is held in the Tate collection and showed at the Galleria Borghese in Rome this year. This autumn, Fortnum & Mason is opening a major collaboration with the artist (from September 10 to October 18), exhibiting 19 newly commissioned paintings, including a 6m site-specific work, in its historic London department store.
Enli, based in Shanghai, grew up in the Jilin province of rural China and often references the reality of both experiences in his work. These new pieces, however, are inspired by ideas of travel, immigration and movement that he developed while travelling across the UK. The result is a series of artworks in island shades of blue, aquamarine and sea green. At first the creations appear entirely abstract but Enli’s work largely develops out of an interest of mapping and topography. His paintings exist beautifully as vibrant meditations on colour, form, shape and brushstroke, as much as questions about memory, space, the environment, emotions and the role of humanity.
Enli works on everything from cardboard to the walls themselves, and also makes immersive painted installations, which he refers to as “space paintings”. The exhibition at Fortnum’s – which will run throughout Frieze Week from October 3 to 6 – demonstrates the vibrancy of his brushstrokes and fluid shapes.
This is the fourth edition of Fortnum’s annual art initiative and selected works by the artist are for sale (from $25,000 to $500,000) through Enli’s London representative Hauser & Wirth. His art will also be shown at Fortnum’s first international flagship store at the K11 Musea development in Hong Kong, where Enli has created a six-part work on paper for the Chinese space.