Zhang Enli

Fortnum's X Zhang Enli: An Introduction

Exhibition | Free

10 September - 18 October

Location: Piccadilly

A magpie collector in the 1950s, our former owner Garfield Weston was often known to return to the store from auctions on Bond Street after lunch with armfuls of art for his customers’ enjoyment. While such a habit may have been to the consternation of staff who were left to hastily rearrange the wall fixtures, Mr Weston was simply following long-established Fortnum’s protocol. That being a dedication to providing pleasure to anyone who walked through our doors.

Yet our proclivity for pleasurable things has led us far further afield than the West End. Fortnum’s may be known by many as a British institution, but we’ve always possessed a decidedly global palate, ever since our first clippers loaded with tea from the East docked at St Katharine’s in 1707. And since then – from amphoras of Syrian honey to Parisian couture by a little-known designer called Yves Saint-Laurent – we’ve always sought out the special, the extraordinary, and the one-of-a-kind. With people travelling more than ever in 2019, our jobs in being expert curators becomes even more pronounced. After working with British artists and curators for the last three years for our September artistic collaboration, we're proud to introduce our first with an artist from overseas: Zhang Enli.

Born in China’s Jilin province in 1965, Zhang Enli resides in Shanghai, his studio in the city’s creative epicentre of Moganshan Road art district. After the post-socialist Chinese art boom of the ‘90s was brought to a halt by the recession, the last decade has seen a meteoric rise in Chinese contemporary art: during this time Enli has held tight to his values and seen his work reappraised, gaining international recognition and becoming one of the 21st century’s most celebrated contemporary artists. Capturing ordinary objects from unusual vantage points, Enli brings a poetry to daily life, whether scattered playing cards, water hoses, knots of wires. Revered for his lightness of touch, his expressive, flowing lines and use of empty space recall traditional Chinese brush paintings, while he came to be particularly regarded for his ‘space paintings’, or full-scale immersive installations that transform interiors.

We will be presenting 22 pieces of his artworks for this year’s month-long collaboration across every inch of the shop, 19 of which have been specially created for exhibition in Piccadilly. Inspired by the artist’s increased travel to and across the UK over the past year, these works harness themes of travel, mapping, immigration and relocation. We are also thrilled to say that two of Zhang Enli’s works will be hung on the walls of our new outpost in Hong Kong’s K11 MUSEA – and because nobody escapes an encounter with tea when they visit Fortnum’s, Enli has designed a bespoke Musea caddy too.

For more than three centuries, Piccadilly has been an expression of our view on the world. Stepping into Fortnum’s has never been about mindless shopping, but about thinking, feeling and engaging – and art has long been part of that experience. We look forward to welcoming Enli’s unique perspective into our store, and you to explore it.


Zhang Enli photography by Thomas Alexander

Artwork photography by Birdhead


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Supported by Hauser & Wirth