March 30 - August 27, 2023

Curated by Paola Bonani and Francesca Rachele Oppedisano


This exhibition brings together some of the most significant contemporary artists who have worked, and are working, on the relationship between art, creativity, aesthetics and the natural territory inhabited by humankind.

The selection, focusing on Italian artists, spans a timeframe stretching from the 1960s to the present day, a period characterised by sweeping changes in our perception of humankind’s relationship with nature – changes to which the visual arts have contributed by opening up new scenarios and forging a new awareness.

Many artists in the 1960s took a radical step beyond the work of art’s traditional boundaries by building elements into it that were taken directly from reality and, in certain cases, focusing their entire research on our relationship with matter, with nature and with its transformation processes. In the 1960s, farming and the landscape became the object of specific artistic practices with the intention of exploring and verifying the possibility of a more human dimension in production and the husbanding of spaces in harmony with the natural environment. Here in Italy, the decade ended with an edition of the Venice Biennale entitled From Nature to Art, from Art to Nature.

These practices were revived with growing interest in the 1990s and that interest has continued unabated up to our own day.  Today the concept of nature has shaken off the idea of natural, an adjective that implies an anthropised view of the earth, and by the same token, the terms territory, landscape and environment have undergone a thorough rethink. Artists now work in the knowledge that they stand within a heterogeneous ecosystem in which artistic practice, scientific knowledge, anthropological and social studies and territorial biopolicies coexist and cooperate, offering us unique visions and perspectives of what we see, perceive, feel, measure, inhabit, contemplate, play with: in a word, what we animate.

Some of the artists whose work is on display in the exhibition have based their practice, in parallel with the birth of environmentalist thought, on the observation of nature in the sense of a field for researching and rediscovering an original identity (Pino Pascali), a place to be measured as the fundament of knowledge (Luca Maria Patella), a space to be reactivated and contemplated through aesthetic redefinition (Gianfranco Baruchello) or with which to identify oneself (Giuseppe Penone). In other cases, the earth and the landscape become the setting for a purely aesthetic and playful imagination capable of unveiling intense visions and ideal landscapes (Mario Merz and Piero Gilardi), or projections that can be dreamlike and fairytale (Giosetta Fioroni) or poetic and familiar (Giacinto Cerone).

These trends in research have been taken up, with more or less direct inspiration, by artists of the younger generations such as Bruna Esposito, Massimo Bartolini, Marzia Migliora, Leone Contini, Michele Guido, Emanuela Ascari, Nico Angiuli, Renato Leotta and Pamela Diamante, who have turned their art into a commitment to reawaken and sensitise our consciences by triggering a kind of immersive, symbiotic and aesthetic as well as ethical cooperation with nature and its elements. Their practices are astonishingly effective in representing such complex, urgent and controversial issues as biodiversity and antispeciesism, sustainability, migration and rurality. Their research brings back into the picture an ecosophia associated with the practice of deep ecology, involving the demolition of anthropocentric thought as though seeking to acknowledge that the earth has a soul, in other words an everted interior to which we all belong.

The exhibition opens with two visual quotes, a Cretto nero (Black Crack) by Alberto Burri and a Concetto spaziale. Cratere (Spatial Concept. Crater) by Lucio Fontana, two exemplary works from an earlier future that illustrate the two poles in which the entire project is rooted: earthly space and cosmic space, the perception of reality and the sublimation of the imaginary.

The exhibition is promoted by Roma Culture and the Azienda Speciale Palaexpo, and is organised by the Azienda Speciale Palaexpo.