At Casa Zegna the path between art and nature by Roberto Coda Zabetta

Fondazione Zegna presents a new journey between art and nature with the exhibition "And the Garden Created Man," a project specially conceived for Casa Zegna by artist Roberto Coda Zabetta.

From May 20 to November 12, 2023, Fondazione Zegna presents a new chapter in the journey between art and nature in Trivero Valdilana (Biella) with the exhibition And the Garden Created Man, a project specially conceived for Casa Zegna by artist Roberto Coda Zabetta (Biella, 1975).

The series of works Landslide and Mud created especially for the exhibition recounts the fragility of man and theecosystem we inhabit but do not protect, the force of uncontrollable events that occur on Earth, and nature’s ability to be reborn and flourish in cycles beyond human control. The artist presents at Casa Zegna a large monumental diptych that traverses the space, creating a kind of “wild garden. ”In Coda Zabetta’s works, nature is evoked through an explosive chromatic charge and dense matter that accumulates on the canvas. The colors of these large paintings seem to draw inspiration from the flowering of Oasi Zegna, not in a didactic and formal way, but in the explosive and unpredictable force of nature.

The title of the exhibition draws inspiration from the book And the Garden Created Man by Jorn de Précy (1912), a philosopher and passionate gardener who lived between the 19th and 20th centuries. In his book, de Précy argues that man to be a gardener and create a true garden must listen to nature and the genius loci. Man must never hinder the forces at work in nature, but work with them. The short book highlights how for millennia man has shaped nature to create his own habitat, building, rebuilding and manipulating the Earth while forgetting its balance and needs.

In the face of the contemporary climate crisis, de Précy’s words resonate almost prophetically: it seems that our life on the planet has now become unsustainable. Maps of immense territories and millennia-old places turned upside down testify to the disruption of the ecosystem. The forces of nature cannot be contained: this manifests itself not only in global warming, but in natural disasters that remind humans of both their own fragility and that of the ecosystem they are supposed to protect and preserve instead.

Like de Précy, entrepreneur Ermenegildo Zegna in the early twentieth century saw these crises in advance, andOasi Zegna is a great testament to this. The revolutionary ideas suggested in de Précy’s text are articulated in the response to the genius loci, the spirit of place of Oasi Zegna. Roberto Coda Zabetta is in fact a native of the valleys near the Oasis and with this exhibition marks his own return to a landscape familiar to him.

Ilaria Bonacossa, author of the curatorial text that accompanies the exhibition, says that “the atavistic force of these canvases surprises us, as if the matter was still in motion and the artist had only stopped a magmatic motion created by earths and pigments, leaving the works open to transform with the changing light of the days like real natural landscapes. The references to Burri’s soils and the chromatics of Renaissance painting open up a spiritual dimension of painting that we seem to need more and more in the frenzy of moving images.”

“Since I was a child,” explains Roberto Coda Zabetta, “I have heard various tales of landslides in the upper areas and mud in the lower ones, in Valle Mosso back in 1968. For almost five years, however, I have chosen to live in a similar area; not so much because of its morphology, but because of its fragility. A microscopic little town near Urbino; an uncontrollable land to the point of changing the millennia-old plans of hills and landscapes. I personally experienced the last earthquake and flood, landslides and mud have become such a personal fact that I feel the duty to tell about it through my painting.”

The exhibition And the Garden Created Man is an operation that continues and amplifies the vocation of Fondazione Zegna: memory, fabric and breath of plants interconnect with the business history of the Zegna family. In fact, for Fondazione Zegna, Roberto Coda Zabetta’s project is part of a journey on the relationship between nature, art and science initiated with the Zegna Forest renewal plan, launched in 2020 as a scientific exploration of the health of Oasi Zegna. The Oasis’ precious eco-system is now the focus of a regeneration plan that will last for at least a decade. The Foundation has invited several artists to interpret its philosophical, visual and emotional dimensions: in 2021 Laura Pugno and in 2022 Emilio Vavarella. With this third chapter, the Zegna Foundation reiterates its desire to further open itself to contemporary research by giving space to emerging talents with new projects conceived ad hoc.

For info:

Hours: Open every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Special openings: Saturday, May 20, Saturday, May 27, Friday, June 2, Saturday, June 3, Saturday, October 7, Saturday, October 14, Saturday, October 21, Saturday, October 28, Wednesday, November 1, Saturday, November 4, Saturday, November 11. In August open daily.
Tickets: Full 7 euros, reduced 5 euros.

At Casa Zegna the path between art and nature by Roberto Coda Zabetta
At Casa Zegna the path between art and nature by Roberto Coda Zabetta

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