“And the garden created man”

From May 20th to November 12th, a new chapter of the journey between art and nature begins with a project designed especially for Casa Zegna by the artist Roberto Coda Zabetta

Art, man and nature; fragility and instinct of protection. The artist presents the works “Frana e Fango” (“landslide and mud”) at Casa Zegna, creating a sort of wild garden: in Coda Zabetta’s work, nature is evoked through the use of an explosive chromatic charge and dense material that accumulates on the canvas.

The exhibition’s title is taken from E il giardino creò l’uomo (1912) by Jorn de Précy, a philosopher and passionate gardener who lived in the 19th and 20th centuries. In his short book, de Précy holds that to be gardeners and create real gardens we must listen to nature and the genius loci. We must never obstruct the forces at work in nature but work with them. De Précy shows how humankind has over the millennia modelled nature to create their habitat, building, rebuilding and manipulating the Earth and forgetting its delicate balances and needs.

In the crippling climate crisis of our own times, de Précy’s words have a disturbingly prophetic ring, for it now seems our life on this planet has become unsustainable. The forces of nature cannot be capped, which can be seen not only in global warming but in the terrible natural catastrophes that remind humans of both their fragility and that of the ecosystems they should be protecting and safeguarding instead of exploiting without regard for the consequences.

Like de Précy, the entrepreneur Ermenegildo Zegna foresaw these crises at the beginning of the 20th century, and Oasi Zegna, now more precious than ever, bears eloquent witness.

In his book, de Précy argues that in order to be a gardener and create a true garden, man must listen to nature and the genius loci. Man must never obstruct the forces at work in nature, but work with them.

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“The atavistic force of these canvases surprises us, as if the matter were still in motion and the artist had only stopped a magmatic movement created by earth and pigments, leaving the works open to transform with the changing light of the days like true natural landscapes. References to Burri’s lands and the chromatic palette of Renaissance painting open up a spiritual dimension of painting that we seem to increasingly need in the frenzy of moving images.”

Ilaria Bonacossa


Roberto Coda Zabetta

Roberto Coda Zabetta (1975, Biella) worked as an assistant at Aldo Mondino’s Studio from 1995 to 2005. He lives and works between Milan and Loretello (Marche). His works have been exhibited in national and international galleries and museums such as: Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce, Genoa (2016); Fondazione Mudima, Milan (2015); Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto, Venice (2015); The Shit Museum, Piacenza (2015); MAC-Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Brazil (2012); Museo di Palazzo Reale, Milan (2010); Museo della Certosa, Capri (2011); Indonesian National Gallery, Jakarta (2009); The David Roberts Foundation, London (2008). He has collaborated on external projects for Museo Madre in Naples, Teatro India in Rome, MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome, and Triennale di Milano. The artist has been selected for various awards, including those promoted by Cittadellarte – Fondazione Michelangelo Pistoletto, Biella; Dena Foundation, Paris; BP Portrait Award National Portrait Gallery, London; XIV Quadriennale, Rome; PSI Italian Bureau, New York; American Academy, Rome. For the last five years, the artist has been carrying out large public art projects called “CANTIERI,” which involve painting, architecture, natural environment, and landscape. The last two have been realized in Portivy, Brittany, and Milan.