Water and the Eternal City seem to be forever linked. Aqueducts, gargantuan fountains, and countless public basins have been providing drinking water and decorating the famous piazzas for some 2000 years. An open-air sculpture exhibition by Italian artist, Oliviero Rainaldi, entitled La Natura delle Cose (The Nature of Things) is set to open later this month, beautifully marrying the Roman history of water to modern art.
Housed in the gardens of the Villa Aldobrandini, this will be the first time that contemporary art has been displayed in this public space. Located literally a few steps up from bustling via Nazionale and built into the southwest side of the Quirinal Hill, the villa is actually ten metres above street level. Quaint and less well known, this garden has a special relationship with water, naturally present there since antiquity.
Fourteen statues in marble, plaster, bronze, and glass are interestingly positioned throughout the garden playing on the open spaces and the unique views of the Roman cityscape. The installations are further enriched by the presence of water, used itself as a material in some pieces, whilst providing a workable surface for others.
Rainaldi, whose art focuses on the human form and body language, repeatedly addresses age-old questions of human existence with references to religion, philosophy, and art history. A painter and sculptor working in many mediums, he dabbles in both the very conceptual and the more literal. This exhibition closely follows this style, as sculptures offer his interpretation of iconic cultural figures from art and the church.
For example, Rainaldi makes reference to Jacques-Louis David’s painting, The Death of Marat, in a large, vertical bronze piece that opens to allow a flowing waterfall. Another installation depicting Moses crossing the Red Sea peeks out from the garden’s luscious camellia flowers. His interpretation of the Greek myth of the torture of the Tantalus, represented by tall, rectangular marble columns that pinch an oblong lead sphere, faces the villa’s terrace.
Throughout his prolific career spanning more than 30 years, Oliviero Rainaldi’s pieces have been shown in some of the most famous galleries and museums from New York to Jakarta. Others permanently reside in public collections worldwide, including his Battesimi Umani at Stockholm’s City Hall, home to the Nobel Prize Ceremony.
Since 2000, Rainaldi has also completed numerous ecclesiastical commissions for churches in Rome and elsewhere in Italy, and was nominated by Pope John Paul II for the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi al Pantheon.
La Natura delle Cose runs daily from 8am to dusk at the Villa Aldobrandini, from 21st June to 1st August.
More information on Oliviero Rainaldi is available on his website.Villa Aldobrandini Via del Mazzarino, 1 (via Nazionale) 00187 Rome