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Art Mapping Piemonte: Zhang Enli’s new project

19 May 2022 Journal News

Yesterday, May 18, in Montabone (AT) A Cheerful Person by the Chinese artist Zhang Enli (Jilin, 1965) has inaugurated. A Cheerful Person is the third site-specific intervention within the Art Mapping Piemonte project.

The rural Church of San Rocco, which stands in the midst of the vineyards of Brachetto d’Acqui, was built in the 18th century in rustic Baroque style, and today it is a delicate presence in the landscape, with its small polylobate rose window at the centre of the façade.

The great charm of this location and the vantage point of those arriving from a distance have prompted the Chinese artist Zhang Enli (Jilin, 1965) to revitalize the chapel with one of his works of abstract gestural painting. Borrowing the colours of the surrounding natural setting, Zhang Enli creates a sort of “pareidolia”, transforming the façade of the church into a smiling face, delicately blurring the architectural features of the façade with his quick brushstrokes to form a unified whole. The project began during the long period of lockdown caused by the pandemic, imagining a work of religious architecture set freely amidst the vineyards, as a happy presence capable of bringing a smile to those who encounter it. Envisioned as a tribute and response to the project in 1999 by Sol Lewitt and David Tremlett in the Barolo Chapel, A Cheerful Person transforms geometric colour fields into an explosion of marks that pay homage to the utterly Italian tradition of “gribouillage” (scribbling) of Cy Twombly and the creativity of childhood, capable of transforming reality with the force of imagination. 

Zhang Enli’s installation is part of Art Mapping Piemonte, a new project based on the intention of the Piedmont Region and produced with the support of Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo to encourage the discovery of contemporary art, away from its conventional locations. The project created by Fondazione Torino Musei and coordinated by Artissima and its director until 2021 Ilaria Bonacossa, has called for the production of three site-specific installations by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists, alongside a mapping of the most important works of public contemporary art in Piedmont, leading to the publication of a guide curated by Vittoria Martini.


A special thanks to Giovanni Gallo, Hauser & Wirth gallery and Attitudine Forma. The Municipality of Montabone thanks Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Asti.

Zhang Enli, an international painter whose works are included in the collections of the most important museums, produces canvases and environmental painted installations in which the boundary between abstract and figurative is lost, thanks to a liquid, rapid method. His seductive, apparently minimal compositions are made of everyday objects that become existential metaphors capable of speaking of the passage of time and its transformations.

Artissima Digital
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