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Xavier Hufkens

Zhang Enli

Zhang Enli’s lyrical works on canvas are often inspired by seemingly ordinary objects, which can range from cardboard boxes to pieces of string, or aspects of everyday life, such as urban structures or landscape features. In such works, Enli strives to capture the immaterial and essential qualities of the object, such as the implications of weight, transparency, softness or flexibility. Enli is also known for creating site-specific sculptures that play with the historical echoes of their surroundings or across the interiors of specially constructed pavilions. Known as ‘space paintings’, these immersive installations take their cue from psychological and emotional experiences, such as childhood memories or the sights and sounds of specific places. His distinctive style—fluid, spontaneous and gestural—draws on both Eastern and Western painterly traditions. The flowing lines are reminiscent of traditional Chinese brush painting, for example, whereas visible grid lines point to the Renaissance technique of ‘squaring up’. Enli is a master of colour and light, preferring to work in thin washes of paint and clear, crystalline colours with dark contrasts. His lightness of touch lends his oeuvre an ethereal, harmonious and deeply evocative quality.

Zhang Enli (b. 1965, Jilin Province in China) lives and works in Shanghai. Selected solo exhibitions include A Room That Can Move, Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2020); Zhang Enli, K11 Foundation, Shanghai (2019); The Bird Cage: a temporary shelter, Galleria Borghese and the Uccelliera, Rome (2019); Gesture and Form, Firstsite, Colchester (2017); Zhang Enli, MOCA, Taipei (2015); Landscape, Museo d’Arte contemporanea di Villa Croce, Genoa (2013); and Space Painting, ICA, London (2013).

Selected Images

Selected media

Zhang Enli

Exhibition walkthrough of the exhibition at Xavier Hufkens (2019)


  • Zhang Enli
    St-Georges & Rivoli


  • Publication

    Zhang Enli
    A Room that Can Move

    texts by Gregor Muir, Philippe Pirotte, conversation with Gong Yan, Hou Hanru, and Zhang Enli, published by Power Station of Art, 2020, 288 pages, Mandarin, English

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  • Publication

    Zhang Enli
    Bird Cage, a temporary shelter. Zhang Enli per la Galleria Borghese

    texts by Testi di Anna Colica, Geraldine Leardi, Davide Quadrio, Zhang Enli, Hou Hanru, published by Maurizio Corraini, 2019, 96 pages, English, Italian

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  • Museum Exhibition

    Zhang Enli in Trees

    9 July — 10 October 2021
    Group exhibition at Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China

    External link