Art unites, just like wine

Art unites, just like wine

Ugo Nespolo is one of the great artists wholight up” Art Park La Court, situated among the rows of Michele Chiarlo, with their masterpieces. We sat for an interview and talked about how art, landscape and wine come together. And to find out what he has in store for Barolo’s most important vineyard, Cannubi. 

Pour art into everyday life and bring daily life to art: out of display shelves and museums, and to the places where people live and work. Ugo Nespolo, born in 1941, is a complete artist, or rather a man-artist – as he has been described – whose works span over different materials, environments and contexts. His works include painting, sculptures, design and art installations, but also movies, theater and advertising, even grappling with avant-garde and theory, collaborating with philosophers such as Giancarlo Ferraris and Umberto Eco. All while maintaining a lively and joyous energy, one that can be defined as «poetic», from the Greek word ποιέω, which means «creative work», one that creates and builds new worlds: «An artist must not be limited – Nespolo says. Art is the foundation of the tools I use to create my work». 

He applies the same creativity within Art Park La Court, located in Castelnuovo Calcea, in the province of Asti. In 2013, for the 10th anniversary of its inauguration, Nespolo created the Porta Artistica sui vigneti, a colorful and jaunty entrance to the museum situated among the vineyards of Michele Chiarlo. But Nespolo also designed the label of Nizza DOCG Riserva La Court Vigna Veja, exclusively produced during exceptional vintages in a limited number of bottles.  

Ugo Nespolo, how did you meet Michele Chiarlo and why did you agree to collaborate in the creation of the museum’s entrance door?   

I was called by the Chiarlo family to work for the celebration of Art Park La Court’s 10th anniversary. I was fascinated by the idea that people outside the art world, and who worked with wine, were interested in my creations. When I learned that Michele Chiarlo and his sons had founded an open-air museum that is accessible to all, located in a particular environment like that of a vineyard, I was excited to be a part of it 

How did the Porta Artistica come to be?  

I wanted to create a symbolic door among the hills: a sculpture that was a like a rite of passage, an entrance to a new world but also a structure that outlined the surrounding landscape. What really fascinated me, though, was the union between art and life. Park visitors, tractors, winemakers and wine lovers would all pass through the door. There is no distinction between a “high” and “low” culture: art is part of everyday life, work and beauty 

Can we call it a form of land art?  

I think landscape art would be more appropriate. Working with the landscape requires respect for the landscape itself: the door I created is a light structure, transparent, almost ethereal. I didn’t want to exaggerate or amplify but reveal what was already there and still exists: I wanted to showcase the landscape, not reduce it to a background spectacle 

In recent years you have adhered to the Corporate Art Manifesto that promotes the encounter between art and brand: how do these two worlds come together?  

The great avant-garde arts have always worked with industry, I do not see the contradiction that critics are pointing to. Companies are the beating heart of society, they help in keeping it alive. Working with companies means connecting with the real world. Business has always brought together different dimensions, letting them interact with each other, facilitating the creation of relationships between people, which is one of the things that fascinate me most and that I put at the center of my artistic journey. 

What’s your relationship with wine hills?  

Langhe and Monferrato are breathtakingly spectacular places that are as astounding as the most popular tourist destinations. The hills are simply dazzling under the light of the sun but are also stunning when covered by the fog that, here, seems socalming. I feel a close connection to these landscapes, and I have observed that the people who guard them focus on removing what is superficial in order to leave room for culture 

Is it true that you love Barbera d’Asti?   

I’m not a big drinker, but I love Barbera. It is our wine, a traditional drink that has always been present on my grandparents’ table, a wine for every day. Barbera may be simpler than Barolo and Barbaresco, less noble. But it is certainly more authentic: a wine that, just like art, brings out its utmost expression when it is able to unite people. 

You are working together with Chiarlo on a project related to Cannubi.   

An artistic path that will guide visitors towards the top of the hill will rise among the rows of the most important vineyard in Langhe. The trail called the Cannubi Pathwill be adorned by different artworks that will directly lead to the ciabot, a small 20th-century construction that will soon be restored to become a space for meditation. A place filled with symbols reminiscent of wine and the vineyard, which will invite people to stop and take a break: a smart way to regain ownership of the land through sight and spirit.