Back to Nature: an Interview with Benedetto Pietromarchi

Benedetto Pietromarchi, talking from his studio in Capalbio tells us about his new artworks which will be on view at the Josh Lilley Gallery in London with an exhibition under the title of "Guardians". He is also participating to the group show "Back to Nature. Nelle mani della Natura" due to open at Parco di Villa Borghese, Rome, April 22, 2020.
by Mara Sartore
February 20, 2020
Mara Sartore
Benedetto Pietromarchi

When we first met, five years ago, the sea and travel was the focus of your research, today you present “the Natural Garden of the Earth”, could you tell us about how your work and your research has evolved in recent years?

Five years ago I was still a wandering traveler, I had just returned from a long boat trip from Uruguay to Holland. The sea had entered my soul. From that experience many works came to life, which you have seen. After that a change took place: I returned to Italy with the intention of settling. Obviously my work was affected, and that also changed: it began to focus on the surrounding territory and its nature, the true protagonist of the areas of the Maremma. The birds, in particular, have captured my imagination,  they have always exerted a charm over me, as well as their numerous archetypal meanings, that I wanted to delve into.

The sculptures are figurative and minimally abstract, they represent symbols from ancient myths, can you tell us which ones you are most drawn to and explain where the need for this type of investigation comes from?

The need to go back to ancient mythology, unsurpassed in exploring the mysteries of the world and man, arises from the intention to give profound meaning to the creatures that I have always been enchanted by, in flight, between the earth and the sky. Between the immanent and the transcendent world. According to the mythology of the Baltic countries, the Hoopoe was considered capable of establishing contact between the realm of the living and that of the dead. While we know that a hooded hawk symbolises the states of constraint and subjection that prevent men with ingenuity from expressing themselves freely, as happens, for example, in countries where dictatorships govern. The exhibition is titled “Guardians” because I imagined a series of birds resting on an entrance arch to a garden. The garden represents the interior of man and explanatory and admonishing figures dwell on the threshold, symbols of man’s imperfection and incompleteness, but also of his virtues.

Courtesy of Benedetto Pietromarchi and Josh Lilley Gallery
Courtesy of Benedetto Pietromarchi and Josh Lilley Gallery

What’s next, after this exhibition?

The most imminent commitment in the pipeline is an exhibition at the end of April at the Carlo Bilotti Museum in Villa Borghese in Rome, the work I am preparing for this exhibition focuses on the theme of the Park itself, its trees torn up by bad weather and more generally on the negative effects that climate change has brought to this place. In November of this year there will be a solo exhibition at the gallery that represents me in Rome, Francesca Antonini.

For a few years now you have been organising an artist residence in Capalbio, can you tell us more about the Treeline residency, the experience to date and what you are preparing for 2021?

The residency is an integral part of my job and, I must say, it brings great satisfaction. As I mentioned a little while ago, I returned to Maremma with the intention of working with and on the area and the artist’s residency gave me that opportunity. This area is therefore the subject of my gaze and that of other artists who, with their vision, testify and pay homage to this area of immense beauty. Regarding the next edition, I can only say that it will take place within the Parco dell’Uccellina, a protected area located between the sea and the hinterland and therefore interesting in many aspects.

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