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ZHANG ENLI (B. 1965)
Autumn Tree
signed in Chinese, dated ‘2013’ (lower left); signed and titled in Chinese, dated and inscribed ‘2013 250 x 200 cm’ (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
250 x 200 cm. (98 3/8 x 78 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2013
Anon. Sale, Poly Auction Shanghai, 22 December 2016, lot 842
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

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Sylvia Cheung
Sylvia Cheung

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Lot Essay

Sleeping on a Night of Autumn Rain
It's cold this night in autumn's third month, Peacefully within, a lone old man.
He lies down late, the lamp already gone out, And beautifully sleeps amid the sound of rain.
The ash inside the vessel still warm from the fire, Its fragrance increases the warmth of quilt and covers.
When dawn comes, clear and cold, he does not rise, The red frosted leaves cover the steps.
- Bai Juyi

The theme of trees is based Zhang Enli's depiction of his immediate living environment. They are presumptively ordinary and mundane; yet, when the artist inserts them into his painting, it prompts an intense sense of recognition as well as uncanniness. In a minimalist and lyrical treatment, Zhang captured the essence of everyday objects with his seasoned pencil sketching technique in which small drawings are enlarged onto a canvas with a fine grid. The artist purposely leaves traces of the grid on the canvas. These remnants of the guiding lines instil a sense of order on the picture plane. The visual experience of the grid isolates the subject from its surrounding. As a result, the whole picture is immersed in a sombre and tranquil atmosphere. The stark branches standing naked against the cloudy sky leave the spectator filled with the awe-inspiring contemplation of autumn, announcing the chill of winter. The gnarled branches and sinuous coloured vines convey the aesthetics of abstraction. The artist explores the innate beauty of objects and environments in his work, challenging boundaries between the figurative and the abstract. With his expressive lines and curves, Zhang elevates theordinary to the extraordinary.

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