Birdcage, a temporary shelter, is the latest site-specific installation by Zhang Enli—a leading artist on China’s growing contemporary arts scene. The project, which is split between different zones in the historic Galleria Borghese, centres around a decorated wooden cube. Enli conspicuously camouflages the box with a tangle of painted trees, making the area the structure occupies a fraudulent extension of the garden in which it is situated.
Building a career on the intersection between space and art, Enli finds different ways for paint to escape the shackles of two-dimensionality. Enli’s Space Painting was a 9,000 square foot watercolor that stretched across the floor and walls of the Institute of Contemporary Art in London in 2013. The artist describes how “spaces themselves sometimes resonate as a work of art,” and it is this attention to overlooked items, such as the canvas, room or paintbrush, that is the focus of his work.
What most people would consider a fascination with inconsequential features, Enli has described as “new viewpoints on unusual details.” This study of the quotidian in the abstract is also manifest in the artist’s use of humble media such as paper, wood and adhesive tape. For the current exhibition in Rome, the Galleria Borghese’s aviary has been fitted with monumental painted towers made from cardboard boxes. These rudimentary ‘3D-paintings’ echo the height and architectural expanse of its enclosure—encouraging audiences to consider art’s interaction with the space that surrounds it.
Birdcage, a temporary shelter, will be on display at Galleria Borghese until 7 July 2019