Zhang Enli

16 Oct 2013 – 22 Dec 2013

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Cost of entry


ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts)

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Piccadilly Circus/Charing Cross

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ICA Theatre


A unique project with Shanghai-based artist Zhang Enli, who will transform the ICA Theatre with a painting covering the floor and walls.

Enli's previous paintings featured seemingly mundane urban objects such as tangled wires, empty cabinets, cargo netting and stacked cardboard boxes. As with the objects he paints, the spaces are empty rooms that show signs of decay and come complete with dirt marks. Semi-transparent layers of paint and the traces of brush strokes draw the viewer's focus to the materiality of the painting, and in turn the newly created space.

Enli always paints with artificial light in a studio located in Moganshan Road art district, an industrial compound filled with galleries and artist studios in Shanghai. Looking at the tones and colours that permeate his work this lack of natural light is evident and enhances the presence of an artificial atmosphere. Enli?s work embodies a very personal relationship with his surroundings and in the ICA Theatre he aims to stretch colours across the space 'like human skin' with thin washes of pigment creating a 'space painting.'

Having grown up in the provincial town of Jilin in the north of China, Enli?s work continues to be strongly marked by his experience of this transition, 20 years ago, to the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai. He represents this extreme contrast to the smaller city he was accustomed to, not through the consumerist preoccupation so common in contemporary Chinese painting coming from its major cities, but by looking at the ordinary, unpretentious objects that surround him and the immigrants travelling from the countryside to Shanghai.

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