Magazzino Italian Art opened an exhibition, curated by Elena Re, dedicated to Italian artist Piero Gilardi and the series at the core of his oeuvre: Tappeto-Natura (Nature-Carpet). Through an ample selection of relevant works, the exhibition seeks to recount and illuminate the experience of a pioneering artist who, at the height of the 1960s, opened a dialogue between Italy and the United States, and who remains committed to investing in the formation of an international artistic community that embodies the tie between art and life.
Since 1965, Gilardi has conceived Tappeto-Natura to concretize a dream: the dream of an ideal nature, uncontaminated, “recreated” through an artificial material like polyurethane foam, which takes shape through the intaglio (carving) technique and is then saturated with synthetic pigment – at first dissolved in vinyl resin, and later, in rubber latex. During this era, the artist’s intent was to create real “aesthetic objects of practical use” that overcome the dualism between art and technology; natural and artificial; body and world. It was possible to walk, lie down and have a multisensory experience of art and life on these soft rugs. Focus and aim were redirected towards the infinite possibilities of these works and towards creating everyday interactions with each individual consumer.
Elena Re says, “Tappeto-Natura embodies the artist’s ethical, ecological, and political beliefs.” Between 1966 and 1968, Gilardi lived in New York, exhibited these works in both international galleries and underground spaces, and encountered artists of the neo-avant-garde. Among the many initiatives in which he found himself at the center of debate, he wrote his thoughts in magazines, such as Arts Magazine; he published a diary of his travels between the United States and northern Europe in Flash Art; he placed Arte Povera in relation to postminimalist and conceptual tendencies; and he theorized and coined the term “Microemotive Art.”
He worked on several fronts because art expressed freedom – anticipating the ideals matured by the culture of ‘68 and enacting them over time. For this reason, the PAV – Parco Arte Vivente, which he conceived and chaired in Turin starting in 2008 – is now the place where Gilardi catalyzes art without barriers. In light of these developments, Tappeto-Natura has continued to evolve in a parallel manner, manifesting itself in the present and prefiguring the artist’s dream.
About the artist
Piero Gilardi (b.1942, Turin, Italy) was one of the protagonists of the Arte Povera movement. By focusing on art experiences and entering a real debate at the heart of the avant-garde that defined the 1960s, he arrived at theorizing “Microemotive Art.”
He created his first pieces in polyurethane foam in 1964, and in 1965 began working on his Tappeto-Natura (Nature-Carpet) series which became a central part of his oeuvre. He has exhibited internationally in Paris, Brussels, Cologne, Hamburg, Amsterdam and New York, presenting innovative and immersive ecological works. He pivoted his art practice to engage with the new artistic trends of the late 1960s, including Arte Povera, Land Art, and Antiform Art, bringing these trends to the international stage. He collaborated on shows for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands and the Bern Kunsthalle in Bern, Switzerland.
With a continued emphasis on the individual’s unique experience with his art, Gilardi began the artistic research project IXIANA in 1985, presented at Parc de la Villette in Paris, France, where he invited the public to artistically experiment with new digital technologies. Along with Claude Faure and Piotr Kowalski, he formed the International Association Ars Technica. He also conceived Parco Arte Vivente (PAV), an experimental center for contemporary art and a testament to his commitment to art in nature, which opened in 2008 in his hometown of Turin. He directs PAV’s art programs which include indoor and outdoor contemporary art installations and exhibitions, notably investigating Living Art.