The artist’s debut American exhibition, which renders organic landscapes from synthetic material, is on view at Magazzino Italian Art

Piero Gilardi’s artistic practice began on a Sunday walk in Turin. While making his way up the Sangone River, he noticed a pile of trash. “Irritated by the sight, his impulse was to reconstruct an unpolluted nature,” reads a press release from Magazzino Italian Art, home to the first American exhibition of the artist’s work. “Since then, Gilardi has been conceiving Tappeto-Natura to concretize a dream: the dream of an ideal nature, uncontaminated.”

Tappeto-Natura, which translates to Nature-Carpet, is a collection of sculptural works that uses artificial materials to imitate organic scenes and landscapes—polyurethane foam, synthetic pigment, vinyl resin, rubber latex. Some of the pieces are mounted; others rest in the center of the floor, or curl up the museum walls in a gentle slope. They depict a variety of biospheres and plant life: Rippling ocean waves, forest floors, flower fields, tilled farmland, and snowy clearings rest side by side. Nothing is framed; Gilardi sought to move away from the practice, “in order to more directly interact with the viewer’s mind and body.”

Left: Terreno di Montagna, 1967. Right: Installation view of the exhibition Gilardi: Tappeto-Natura at Magazzino Italian Art, Cold Spring, New York. Photos by Marco Anelli and Tommaso Sacconi.

One of the primary motivations behind the Italian artist’s work is to unite technology with nature, and nature with the individual. “Nature and the future seem increasingly incompatible on this planet,” reflects Italian diplomat Mariangela Zappia. “Piero Gilardi has consistently placed these two elements side by side as if to seek reconciliation between them.” Of course, the artist isn’t securing nature’s place in the future by simply rendering it realistically. His intention, rather, is to “catalyze a cultural ‘re-enchantment’” with the natural world—to bestow upon his audience a fresh perspective, which they’ll take with them into the real world, and hopefully, move through it differently.

Gilardi: Tappeto-Natura is on view at Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring, New York through January 9, 2023.