Art, ecology, social commitment and political activism
in the life and work of a master of contemporary Italian art

Over 60 works showcase his career from the Sixties to the present

MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Arts
Rome, Italy
13 April – 15 October 2017

Art must become part of life, but as life is alienated,
we also need to commit to liberating and disalienating life
(Piero Gilardi)

Piero Gilardi has recreated portions of nature in the form of carpets, reproduced the faces of politicians and industrialists in satirical masks, persuaded protest marchers to push a giant rock together and constructed stones that beat to the rhythm of our heart. He believes in a militant, democratic art free from the market, a positive generator of social transformation. MAXXI is dedicating a major monographic exhibition to Gilardi, NATURE FOREVER, curated by Hou Hanru, Bartolomeo Pietromarchi and Marco Scotini, from 13 April to 15 October 2017.

As the curators explain:“With over 60 works – from the famous Nature-carpets to the interactive installations and through to the Living Art Park of Turin, along with important pieces exhibited for the first time in years or reconstructed for the occasion –the exhibition reviews the career of a master for whom art and life are identified with and become militant commitment, starting out from that as an ecologist.An artist who is also a critic, researcher and political and social activist. For Gilardi, the artistic object goes beyond the purely aesthetic dimension: it is not made to be contemplated but experienced, shared and participated. And it is this interactivity that runs throughout the show.”

NATURE FOREVER presents Gilardi’s 50-year career in which art, criticism and politics are intertwined.From the complex relationship between man and nature, it investigates the era of consumerism and the use of new technologies in a presentation tackling and exploring themes such as ecology, the relational nature of art and social and political commitment.It is divided into four sections, each of which includes both works and archive materials (sketches, texts, original photographs, small works) allowing a comprehensive overview of the artists thinking and poetic.

The exhibition includes the Tappeti Natura (Nature-carpets) that have made him famous, sculptures in expanded polyurethane, hyper-realistic but artificial representations of natural scenes, a kind of “disguise”, a ritual exorcising the death of nature, Terrazza a structure similar to a stilt house, created for the 1966 exhibition Arte Abitabile at the Galleria Sperone in Turin, and reconstructed for the first time for this show.

Aigues Tortes (2007) a log on which you can sit and listen to the sounds of the natural park in Spain or the Sassi Pulsanti (1999) which present the visitor with the beating of their own heart.

These works are part of that strand of research called New Media Art that from the 1980s led the artist to adopt technology allowing the spectator to actively participate by interacting with the art.

Also on show is the multimedia work Inverosimile (1989), reinstalled for the first time in an Italian museum, a large-scale interactive installation, which is activated by the breath of the spectators and moves and produces sounds.

The exhibition features also Gilardi’s political animations, from the Sixties to the present, some of which are on show in a museum of the first time, the Masso della Crisi (2012), an inflatable made for the May 1st march, and numerous other projects and costumes made to criticize the political class, defend the environment and civil rights. Gilardi’s work is illustrated also through archive materials.

Gilardi’s research is unceasing and he continues to give form and voice to the community; rather than deception, in his inclusive, democratic and participated work the creative artifice is power which the artist constantly invites us to liberate as for him art is not a way of talking about art but about the world.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Quodlibet, edited by Anne Palopoli, with critical texts by Hou Hanru, Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, Marco Scotini and Valérie Da Costa and a new text by Piero Gilardi.

Piero Gilardi was born in Turin in 1942 and began working as an artist in the 1960s within the post-Pop Art trends.He participated in the birth of the Arte Povera movement and in the 1970s dedicated himself to “collective creativity”, working within various social and political ambits.In the 1980s he experimented with new digital idioms and produced a series of “Virtual Reality” works.From the turn of the new millennium he has been working within the context of Ecological Arts and with his group founded the Living Art Park in Turin.His works are on show in the leading international museums.He has published three books of theoretical thinking: Dall’arte alla vita, dalla vita all’arte (La Salamandra 1980), Not For Sale (Mazzotta 2000) and La miaBiopolitica (Prearo 2016).