Visiting the MAXXI designed by Zaha Hadid was on my list of places to go in Rome. The exhibition “Nature Forever” by Piero Gilardi pushed the MAXXI to the top of my list. Gilardi, an artist I have never heard of, exhibited his Tappeto-Natura for the first time in 1966. “In these “Nature-Carpets” he presented an artificial form of nature while adopting the principles of realism: the various elements are reconstructed in the most meticulous manner, but in polyurethane foam, a material that could hardly be farther from nature” – from the exhibition catalog.
“This meant that the viewer’s perceptive habits and experiences were constantly brought into question and relativised. The object is emptied of its material characteristics, but its realistic reproduction brings to mind a naturalistic, contemplative scenario made of personal experiences, places and images. In the artist’s mind, the Tappeto-Natura was first and foremost a work to “experience”: the object is indeed not work to be contemplated passively”. – from the exhibition catalog
It could be the translation in the catalog or it could be art-speak; reading this commentary it was impossible to gain insight into the work itself.
The nature carpets are approximately 8 ft. square. Originally designed to be touched, played with, cuddled up against …it was to be an immersive experience.
In the current exhibition, the carpets are works of art: DO NOT TOUCH! The inability to do any of what the artist intended, turns Nature Forever into nature forgotten.
In the gallery next to the carpets, Gilardi created a forest of grape vines. Almost life size, you wander among the trees. Suddenly out of no where music starts playing, the trees move their branches, the grapes shake on their vines, light on the trees change color and the screen behind the trees is a slide show of geometric patterns. It’s magical and not to be forgotten.