Piero Gilardi: Collaborative Effects
26 January – 7 April 2013
Free to all
A solo show by one of the founding members of the radical 1960s movement, Arte Povera, that flourished as a response to the rapid industrialisation of Northern Italy in the post-war years.
Art as guerrilla warfare is how some describe Arte Povera (Poor Art), a politically engaged movement that set out to create social relations through art. Using the detritus of industrialisation, artists made sculptures out of old tin cans and bits of metal, as well as organising street theatre performances and demonstrations.
Piero Gilardi was one of its most influential figures and is best known for his agitprop objects, which were sculptures carved and painted from foam. This retrospective charts the artist’s career over a 22-year period, from early interactive sculptures based on natural motifs to his late anti-austerity and environmental campaigns in Italy.
The exhibition begins with Gilardi’s vibrantly coloured Nature Carpets, semi-realistic looking sculptures made from foam and paint. From a field of cabbages to a bamboo wood, these surreal specimens confronted the destruction of Italy’s countryside with a bawdy humour.
Some of Gilardi’s objects could also be worn, like his pebble carpet, and some of them were designed for the viewer to climb inside, while others highlighted Gilardi’s concern with climate change.