Enrique Oliviera’s Astonishing ‘Devir’

We were blown away by Enrique Oliveira’s massive tree sculpture that seems to grow in all directions out of and through the walls, floor and ceiling of the Van de Weghe Gallery on the top floor of a Madison Avenue town house on NYC’s upper East side. Built out of plywood scraps, tree branches and bark, the organic form embodies its title, “Devir”, which roughly translates to “the concept of constant change“. The lightless, wood-clad room feels curiously like an ancient church; we sat in its quiet for a long time.

Sally Schneider

Oliveira transformed ubiquitous materials (applied with a staple gun!) into something else altogether, palpably alive.

Sally Schneider

From the gallery’s commentary:

He uses [materials scavenged from construction sites: plywood, metal, foam, tree branches] to build organic structures evocative of tumors, exposed viscera, or various plant-life.  These meticulously-built hybrid forms reference both nature and the environmental decay associated with societal waste.  Oliveira expertly integrates these structures with adjacent architecture or ordinary objects, blurring the line between a sculpture and its surroundings to suggest a strange and new kind of life.

Oliveira’s work is an invitation to see not just with the eyes, but to perceive with the body. 


Although we’ve written here about Oliveiros’ work, it is the first time we experienced it in person. We found ourselves moving our hands over it, pressing against it, draping ourself on it…to perceive it fully…

…heartened too that the scavenged materials and dead trees he uses found new, powerful life. More of his work here.



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