Art Basel Hong Kong 22 – 26 March 2016
蜘蛛 spider Highlights from Hauser & Wirth 1D13 Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre 1 Harbour Road Wan Chai, Hong Kong
‘The spider – why the spider? Because my best friend was my mother and she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and as useful as a spider... I shall never tire of representing her.’ –Louise Bourgeois
Hauser & Wirth is delighted to return to Art Basel Hong Kong with a presentation that explores the theme of ‘the spider’, an auspicious symbol in ancient and contemporary Chinese culture. The booth will spotlight four major artist estates – Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Philip Guston and David Smith – alongside Mark Bradford and Zhang Enli. In Chinese, the spider (zhīzhū) also called ‘xǐ zǐ’, is pronounced the same as the Chinese character for happiness, and is therefore coined the ‘Happy Insect’ and viewed as a positive omen. It is widely believed that this custom originated in the Han Dynasty (206BC – 220AD). Folklore also claims that a spider falling from its nest is a symbol of good fortune. As such, the auspicious phrase ‘Happiness Dropped from Heaven’ refers to a spider hanging from its web. Additionally, eight is considered the luckiest number in China, which adds to the insect’s significance. A recurring symbol in art history, the spider has taken on many forms and meanings in the hands of artists. The works selected by Hauser & Wirth for the fair, presented together in a city where the spider holds such precedence, inherit an additional layer of meaning.
Louise Bourgeois Louise Bourgeois was an undeniable force in contemporary art over the past seven decades, creating a powerful body of work unsurpassed in its astonishing range and complexity. Of her entire monumental body of work that spanned seven decades, her spider sculptures have distinguished themselves within her oeuvre, captivating the viewing public and finding homes in the permanent collections of the world’s most prestigious museums, such as the Tate Modern, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Reina Sofia, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. and many more institutions around the globe. Bourgeois’s art was fuelled by an unflinching examination of her emotions and relationships whereby she constantly returned to her past in an effort to exorcise girlhood traumas inexorably connected to her mother and father. Her parents had owned a gallery in Paris where her father sold antique tapestries, while her mother ran the tapestry restoration workshop in Choisy-le-Roi and, later, in Antony. Towards the end of her life, Bourgeois’s oeuvre became consumed with exploring her relationship with her mother, replacing a prior preoccupation with her father. The persistent cutting and destructive impulses present in her earlier works, which she associated with her philandering father, dissipated in favour of themes of reparation and construction when she took her own mother as a subject.
Although the spider first appeared in her oeuvre in the 1940s, she did not avidly embrace the motif until 1993, when she began her celebrated series of spider sculptures which she worked upon until 2003. In interviews, she ex plicitly likened her mother to spiders: ‘Like a spider, my mother was a weaver...Like spiders, my mother was very clever...spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother’. However, the overwhelmingly positive qualities with which Bourgeois associated with the spider are at great odds with the resultant sculptures, whose dark, twisting metal forms and sheer scale make them equivocal and menacing creatures.
Louise Bourgeois Untitled 2005 Fabric 69.8 x 52 cm / 27 1/2 x 20 1/2 in © The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York Photo: Christopher Burke
‘The Spider is an Ode to my mother... spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.’ –Louise Bourgeois
SPIDER COUPLE ‘Spider Couple’ has the distinction of being one of the last iconic spider sculptures to be made in her Brooklyn studio in 2003, but significantly it is also the only work in the series to incorporate two spiders, or, as she significantly titled them, a couple. In ‘Spider Couple’, the arachnids are entwined, becoming one single mass of long thorny legs ready to scuttle together in any direction. The two central bodies, spirals of metal, hover amongst the web of legs, one taking shelter under the taller companion’s limbs. Although featureless, the two spiders have turned in opposite directions in order to keep watch over potential dangers, the protectiveness that Bourgeois associated with the spider given figurative form. The sculpture, as a whole, is a study in tension and torsion: the frightening yet fragile spiders cling to each other for comfort, creating an anxious scene of multiplied limbs and twisted bodies. Given Bourgeois’s lifelong association of the spider with femininity, it is easy to interpret this as a double ‘portrait’ of Louise and her mother, with the daughter taking refuge under her mother’s protective skirts. Louise, it is known, was defensive of her mother’s position in the Bourgeois household, undermined as it was by her father’s live-in mistress, which may explain the smaller spider’s aggressive stance. Later in life, Bourgeois became increasingly preoccupied with the idea of ‘the couple’: although couples first appeared Louise Bourgeois Spider Couple (detail) 2003 Bronze, silver nitrate patina 228.6 x 360.7 x 365.8 cm / 90 x 142 x 144 in © The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York Photo: Christopher Burke
in Bourgeois’s work in the 1940s, the artist only seriously developed the motif in the late 1990s, beginning an indepth and on-going examination into how humans attempt (and occasionally fail) to connect with each other. As Marie-Laure Bernadac has explained, Bourgeois’s late-inlife obsession with the couple ‘is a sign of an ambivalence towards erotic impulses found in her works, which oscillate between attraction and repulsion. Bourgeois’s approach is for the most part characterised by the relationship between ‘one and others’ but the erotic relations between man and woman are a central component of her oeuvre. This theme includes the need for love and tenderness, a fear of abandonment and above all, an acknowledgement (despite everything) of the benefits of living life as part of a couple. For Louise Bourgeois, the couple is first and foremost a positive relationship and its repeated rendering speaks to the artist’s ‘need for love and tenderness, a fear of abandonment, and above all, an acknowledgement (despite everything) of the benefits of living life as part of a couple’. In this powerful work, Bourgeois combines two of her greatest themes, the spider and couples, to create a work of great tenderness and poignancy. It is a testament to the importance this work had for the artist that an edition of ‘Spider Couple’ is installed in the garden of her Chelsea townhouse, which will soon open to the public. Two more examples from the edition of 6 sculptures are in the permanent collections of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark, and the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague. ‘Spider Couple’ is a masterful portrayal of the artist’s inner dialogue and is a potent example of the artist at the height of her powers. Louise Bourgeois Spider Couple 2003 Bronze, silver nitrate patina 228.6 x 360.7 x 365.8 cm / 90 x 142 x 144 in © The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York Photo: Christopher Burke
Louise Bourgeois Jitterbug 1998 Lithograph on music paper 45.7 x 61 cm / 18 x 24 in ÂŠ The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York Photo: Christopher Burke
Louise Bourgeois Spider 2007 Ink on paper 45.7 x 59.7 cm / 18 x 23 1/2 in ÂŠ The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York Photo: Christopher Burke
THE ETERNAL THREAD IS YOU Louise Bourgeois’s art inextricably entwined personal experience and artistic expression. Entrenched in the mythology surrounding her upbringing, Bourgeois retrospectively replayed, reprised and replicated her memories of the psychological distress that pervaded her youth. While much of Bourgeois’s iconography can be traced back to her childhood experiences, her works also resonate on a much broader plane, conveying universal themes of emotion, anxiety and longing. Confronting the deeply repressed issues of her girlhood, ‘The Eternal Thread Is You’ (2003) attempts to reconcile these traumatic episodes with needle and thread. As Bourgeois once said, ‘My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama. All my work, all my subjects, have found their inspiration in my childhood’. Born into an affluent family on the outskirts of Paris, as a girl Bourgeois would often help in her parents’ tapestry restoration workshop where she became a skilled draughtsman and seamstress. Yet, the artist’s family life grew fractured and unsettled, marred by her father’s infidelity to her mother, which incited an enduring sense of betrayal and abandonment in Bourgeois. Recalling her mother’s constant efforts at conservation and repair, in the mid-1990s she embarked on an extraordinary body of soft sculptures made from repurposed textiles, for the most part old garments that had belonged to her and her mother that she had saved for many years. Through the act of sewing Bourgeois attempted to effect psychological repair, invoking the familiar techniques of her childhood in her quest for restoration. ‘I always had the fear of being separated and abandoned’, she explained. ‘The sewing is my attempt to keep things together and make things whole’.
In ‘The Eternal Thread Is You’ (2003) a kneeling female figure cradles a blue glass sphere in her lap. Hand sewn in soft pink fabric, she sits atop a steel plinth surrounded by spools of thread in shifting shades of blue. Signifying the passing of time and the endurance of memory, each of the twelve spools corresponds to the hours of a clock. Yet with head bowed, absorbed in private meditation, she appears sheltered from the fleeting temporality that beats time about her. ‘Cell XXVII’ (2004-2005) (fig. 1) extends this imagery. Encircled by a set of carved marble arms a fabric figure in blue and white striped ticking holds a blue glass ball to her chest. Surveyed through the open cage, as the figure in ‘The Eternal Thread Is You’ is seen through a glass vitrine, she is alone but not lonely. Bourgeois remarked, ‘Blue represents peace, meditation, and escape’. Entirely original in scope and expression, ‘The Eternal Thread Is You’ is a poetic and powerful example of the artist’s late work, which poignantly returned to themes from the artist’s youth, engaging in self-reflection and psycho-biography to finally disclose the repressed.
Louise Bourgeois The Eternal Thread Is You 2003 Fabric, thread, glass and stainless steel 107.3 x 45.7 x 35.6 cm / 42 1/4 x 18 x 14 in White oak, glass and stainless steel vitrine: 196.9 x 106.7 x 86.4 cm / 77 1/2 x 42 x 34 in © The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York Photo: Christopher Burke
Mark Bradford UNTITLED Mark Bradford’s art is of and about cities, primarily South Central Los Angeles, where he grew up black and gay in an era dominated by hip-hop, identity politics and AIDs. One of the poorest neighbourhoods in Los Angeles, South Central found itself at the centre of the Los Angeles riots in 1992, which resulted in mass civil disturbance and widespread looting, assault, arson and murder. It is this community, defined by both hardship and renewal, which has defined Bradford and inspired him to incorporate aspects of his surroundings into his art, both directly and indirectly. Bradford grew up at the heart of South Central where his mother owned a hair salon in which a young Bradford worked both as a hair stylist and making signs for the store. As he has explained, his upbringing instilled an understanding for working with his hands and the art of making: ‘My art practice goes back to my childhood, but it’s not an art background. I’ve always been a creator. My mother was a creator; my grandmother was a creator’. Bradford’s art is primarily concerned with the process of adding and subtracting, tearing, overlapping and sanding back, and, on occasion, using paint to emphasise composition. ‘Untitled’ (2015) is part of the artist’s recent series of Stain paintings, in which he explores a time based process to create near organic forms. A palette of fleshy
pinks, blistered whites and thickly bruised and clotted black dominates these works, which draw inspiration from molecular and cellular imagery of the human body. To create the Stain paintings, Bradford embossed his canvases with densely pigmented paper, allowing them to congeal into the canvas for short periods of time, ranging from several minutes to a few hours. Torn away in layers, the paper left for the shortest amounts of time comes away with ease, leaving an almost exact imprint in the white canvas beneath. Yet, left to dry, the materials pasted for several hours require more rigorous activity: scratched away from the canvas with compulsive, violent gestures, they diffuse fleshy veins across Bradford’s ‘painting’. Admired for his ability to conflate the chaos of social and political forces with a particularly rigorous physical and conceptual approach to each canvas, Bradford’s work is occupied with the historical trace. The materiality of his works physically recover the lived experiences of his urban environment. Through his collaged paintings, sculptures, videos and installations, Bradford explores issues of class, race, and gender in American urban society. An anthropologist of his own environment, Bradford describes himself as a ‘modern-day flaneur’, saying, ‘I like to walk through the city and find details and then abstract them and make them my own. I’m not speaking for a community or trying to make a socio-political point. At the end it’s my mapping. My subjectivity’.
Mark Bradford Untitled 2015 Mixed media on canvas 335.3 x 304.8 cm / 132 x 120 in © Mark Bradford Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Joshua White
Alexander Calder MORNING COBWEB With his radical new approach to the genre, Alexander Calder revolutionised sculpture in the twentieth century. Injecting movement into the previously-static medium, he transformed the nature of sculpture, imbuing each of his works with a quality of lively animation. Although best known for his famous mobiles, begun in 1932, Calder devoted the latter part of his career to the creation of stationary, earth-bound works, entitled ‘stabiles’, which he began in the mid-1930s. In his stabiles Calder truly unleashed his creativity and genius for composition and form, investing conventional standing sculptures with a dynamism and torsion that belies their fixed nature. Displaying his unique skill for the creation of outdoor sculpture that still retain a human scale, Calder’s stabiles are executed with an enchanting humour and whimsy, at once entirely abstract, yet whimsically referential. While Calder’s mobiles are distinguished by their responsiveness to wind and consequent ability to rotate unaided, his stabiles are distinguished, one might say, by quite the opposite ability – that is, to stand ‘stably’ without a base, pedestal, or in fact any sort of supporting device. In both cases Calder integrated his desire to build a novel, mechanically sound object into his search for a compelling plastic form. In the post-war period, with metal back in
plentiful supply after wartime rationing, Calder created some of his most beautiful, accomplished and complex works, distinguished not only by the grace and balance of their systems, but by the intricacy, unpredictability, and interacting forces that brought the work to a radical new level, as Calder merged stabile and mobile constructions and introduced sophisticated weights and cantilevers. In ‘Morning Cobweb’ (1967) metal vectors rise up from the ground in angular spikes of black, the gentle arcs of the base transforming into a foreboding web of intersecting black fronds. Simultaneously menacing and elegant, ‘Morning Cobweb’ weaves an open web, its open structure investigating the space and volume of a spider’s web, typically densely woven, yet gossamer thin. From the 1920s, when he crafted a cast of sculpted circus performers and animals, including elephants, horses and dogs, Calder was occupied by the natural world. Yet, it was the theme of the spider that Calder would return to with most frequency throughout his life, from ethereal, slowly-revolving mobiles, reminiscent of spiders hanging on silken threads, to robust, malevolent stabiles that engulf the viewer in their presence. Tracing the path of Calder’s career, many of these sculptures are now housed in major international collections, culminating in one of the artist’s last, great stabiles, the monumental ‘Red Spider’ (1974), now permanently installed in Paris. Calder’s fascination with the spider provides the viewer with the opportunity to follow the genesis of his sculpture, from the intimacy of his fluctuating mobiles, to the solidity of the stabiles with which he ended his career. Alexander Calder Morning Cobweb 1967 Sheet metal, bolts, and paint (intermediate maquette) 162.6 x 102.2 x 101.6 cm / 64 x 40 1/4 x 40 in ©2015 Calder Foundation, New York / DACs, London Courtesy Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, New York and Hauser & Wirth
SPIDERS AND SNAKES Renowned chiefly for his lyrical mobiles and monumental stabiles, Alexander Calder started his career as a painter. He was first inspired to paint in 1922, when working as a timekeeper in Washington State he was struck by the beauty of his mountainous surroundings and wrote home for painting materials. These first figurative paintings gesture towards the artist’s later fascination with movement and space. Often overlooked as a painter, Calder returned time and again to two dimensions throughout his career. ‘Spiders and Snakes’ (1948) dates from Calder’s most prolific period in paint; between 1946 and 1953 he created some of his most exuberant images, which combine his familiar imagery of spirals, discs and biomorphic shapes with a new expressionistic and gestural vigour. Divided into a background of deep red and white, ‘Spiders and Snakes’ is overlaid by fanciful anthropomorphic creatures: two crawling spiders cower in opposite corners of the painting, while a blue toned snake coasts across the canvas. While Calder continuously produced gouache works on paper throughout his career, he made far fewer oil paintings. With its vibrant colour and inventive composition, ‘Spiders and Snakes’ is amongst the artist’s most accomplished paintings. Emblazoned with bold discs of red and yellow, the work pays tribute to Calder’s close relationship with Joan Miró, recalling the Spanish artist’s celebrated ‘Painting (The Magic of Colour)’ (1930). The artists became friends during Calder’s sojourn in Paris in the late 1920s, and their connection was solidified at Calder’s Connecticut residence where they continued to exchange ideas, reinforcing the resemblance between their styles. It was Miró who influenced Calder away from traditional modes of representation and towards a language of Surrealist abstraction. Speaking of his friend, Calder recalled, ‘I first met Miró in December 1929, when I telephoned him at his studio in Montmartre…We became very good friends and
did a whole lot of things together, including going to the same gym. I got to like his paintings and the colours and the characters he used, and we did an exchange…The gym is a thing of the past; but Miró and I go on’. From the 1920s, with his first paintings and sculptures that invoked a host of circus animals, including elephants, horses and dogs, Calder was occupied by the natural world. Yet, it was the theme of the spider that Calder would return to with most frequency throughout his oeuvre, whether in his ethereal mobiles, reminiscent of spiders dangling from silken threads, his robust stabiles, or in vivid paintings such as ‘Spiders and Snakes’. Tracing the path of Calder’s career, many of these works are now housed in major international collections, culminating with the monumental stabile, ‘Red Spider’ (1974), now permanently installed in Paris. Like Louise Bourgeois, whose sustained interrogation of the arachnid form comprises a significant and celebrated element of her oeuvre, Calder’s fascination with the spider provides the viewer with the opportunity to follow the genesis of a career that encompasses a broad array of media, and that never abandoned the artist’s first love of painting.
Alexander Calder Spiders and Snakes 1948 Oil on canvas 64.8 x 92.1 cm / 25 1/2 x 36 1/4 in © 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / DACs, London Courtesy Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, New York and Hauser & Wirth
Philip Guston When the horses of Time are halted at my door I am always a little afraid to watch them drink Since it is with my blood they quench their thirst. They turn upon me a look of recognition And I am overwhelmed with weakness from their lengthy draughts. They leave me so weary, so elusive and alone That an interval of dusk descends upon my eyelids And I must suddenly build up my strength again So that each day the thirsty creatures come I can be still alive, and slake their thirst. â€” Jules Supervielle
TO J.S. In the autumn of 1970, Philip Guston shocked the art world when he unveiled a new body of work at the Marlborough Gallery, which eschewed the Abstract Expressionist practice for which he was renowned, for a return to the figurative style that he had abandoned two decades before. These new and strange tableaux depicted scenes of unsettling disorder, a narrative realism that distorted everyday reality into something unfamiliar and complex. Abandoned by dogmatic critics, Guston sought artistic
companionship in the world of literature and poetry, fostering friendships with contemporary poets, including Clark Coolidge, Bill Berkson, William Corbett and Stanley Kunitz. ‘The few people who visit me are poets or writers, because I value their reactions’, he said in 1978. It was these relationships that would nurture some of his greatest paintings, introducing the artist to a wealth of poets and writers who had previously evaded him, and in whose writing he sought both the familiar and strange. Painted in 1977, ‘To J.S.’ is dedicated to Jules Supervielle, a French poet greatly admired by T.S. Eliot and Rainer Maria Rilke. ‘My father had been very moved by his poem, ‘The Horses of Time’’, recalled Guston’s daughter, Musa. ‘The poem obviously had great resonance for him, and would be meaningful to anyone considering this great painting’. Like Guston, whose childhood was ravaged by the tragic deaths of his father and brother, Supervielle’s poetry is haunted by the loss of his parents early in his life. Drawn to the traces of suffering that reverberate throughout Supervielle’s verse, Guston perhaps recognised a kindred spirit. Indeed, Guston and Supervielle shared much artistically, as well as biographically: both poet and artist express a rich and intensely personal imagery that seamlessly fuses inner and outer landscapes. ‘To J.S.’ reinterprets Supervielle’s poem, ‘The Horses of Time’ with Guston’s personal iconography in mind. Bent to a lake of deep blue, four horse shoes on mechanical arms drink deeply, supplanting the parasitic animals that drain the speaker of Supervielle’s poem: ‘When the horses of time are halted at my door / I am always a little afraid to watch them drink / Since it is with my blood they quench their thirst’. The sense of physical unease and mental anguish that pervades Guston’s late painting is mirrored in the poem’s immortal imagery, that condemns its protagonist to eternal enslavement: ‘I must suddenly build up my strength again / So that each day the thirsty creatures come / I can be still alive, and slake their thirst’.
Throughout his career Guston demonstrated a profound respect for poets and writers, from his own friends and relations – his wife, Musa McKim, was herself a celebrated poet – to established prose writers, including Kafka, Kierkegaard and Beckett, alongside poets, Baudelaire, Pasternak and Yeats. ‘How much Philip loved poetry!’ recalled Stanley Kunitz. ‘One of my most vivid recollections is of an evening when I read the poems of [Gerald Manley] Hopkins aloud to him at his request, for he had never heard them spoken...I concentrated on his face, aglow, as I had scarcely seen it before’. Poetry represented an enduring influence throughout all phases of his career, and especially in the last years of his life when death weighed heavily on his mind. Drawn to T.S. Eliot’s poetry, Guston’s 1979 painting, ‘East Coker-Tse’ draws together the mood of dry despair evoked by Eliot, with the artist’s own existential genesis. As in ‘To J.S.’, painted just two years before, Guston found incontrovertible truth in the language of others, deriving from their experiences a means to evacuate the torment of his soul.
Philip Guston To J.S. 1977 Oil on canvas 172.7 x 264.2 cm / 68 x 104 in © The Estate of Philip Guston Courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth
David Smith Throughout his career, painting and, especially, drawing, remained an integral element of David Smith’s practice. By the early 1950’s Smith had established a working process that allowed him to concentrate on his drawings. ‘These drawings’, he claimed, ‘are studies for sculpture, sometimes what sculpture is, sometimes what sculpture never can be’. His subjects encompassed the figure and landscape, as well as gestural, calligraphic strokes made with egg ink, a medium of Smith’s own invention, combining egg yolk and India ink.
David Smith Untitled (Detail) 1952 Egg ink on paper 39.4 x 52.1 cm / 15 1/2 x 20 1/2 in © Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA, New York Courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Todd White
David Smith Delta Epsilon 11-19-52 1952 Egg ink on paper 39.4 x 52.1 cm / 15 1/2 x 20 1/2 in ÂŠ Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA, New York Courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Todd White
David Smith Untitled 1952 Egg ink on paper 39.4 x 52.1 cm / 15 1/2 x 20 1/2 in ÂŠ Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA, New York Courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Todd White
David Smith Delta Epsilon 11/18/52 1952 Egg ink on paper 39.4 x 52.1 cm / 15 1/2 x 20 1/2 in ÂŠ Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA, New York Courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Todd White
David Smith Delta Epsilon 1 5/3/53 1953 Ink on paper 39.7 x 51.8 cm / 15 5/8 x 20 3/8 in ÂŠ Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA, New York Courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Todd White
Zhang Enli THE BRANCHES (3) Zhang’s delicate paintings bring nature into close-up, subtly blurring the boundary between indoors and out. The works are rarely produced from direct observation, but from sketches, photographs and, significantly, from his memories of the objects he is depicting. Zhang’s tree paintings are taken from photographs of the trees that line the streets of Shanghai. The trees appear elevated, viewed from below; they are never rooted to the ground, but rather appear to float in the sky, causing the viewer to stop and reflect. The trees, a constant marker of the four seasons and the passing of time, are imbued with their own individual characteristics, playing on the idea that everything living is sentient. Influenced by the loose washes of traditional Chinese brush painting, Zhang dilutes his paint until it is almost like a glaze, leaving pencil-drawn grids visible beneath the layers of paint. By allowing the grids to show through the painted surface, Zhang constantly reminds us that his paintings are artistic constructs, not direct replicas of any given object. The perspective of each painting is skewed to heighten the drama of the object’s shape, but Zhang’s expressive lines and curves are kept in check within this measured framework. In this way, the rigid structure of his pencildrawn grids can be viewed as a means of ordering the chaos of contemporary life.
The muted tones and thin application of paint make the objects seem not quite present, as if occupying a liminal reality where only the essence of the object is portrayed on the canvas. His subject matter is usually enlarged, so that only a specific fragment of a scene is shown, as seen through the viewfinder on a camera. Although Zhang chooses to work with grids, a common technique when enlarging photographs, this belies the nature of his practice, since his depictions are not faithful renditions of objects, but highly personal offerings.
Zhang Enli The Branches (3) 2015 Oil on canvas 200 x 180 x 5.2 cm / 78 3/4 x 70 7/8 x 2 in
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