Nature, Passion and Protection
Margherita Leoni was born in Italy in 1974 and she studied at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera – an academy of fine arts in Milan – where she met Brazilian sculptor Luciano Mello Witkowski Pinto (1972).
From this meeting started a double passion: the one for who later become his husband and the other for Brazilian untouched nature. The artist has indeed lived there for sixteen years and she has only recently returned to Italy.
In Brazil she started to draw different plant species from Amazon, from Tropical rainforest and from Cerrado – the local savannah – and she studied Botany at university.
She then specialized in botanical painting matching flora’s beauty with scientific accuracy even if sometimes she adds aesthetically stunning components like golden backgrounds.
It may seem simple, for a good observer and drawer, to paint a flower but, as Margherita Leoni underlined me during our talk, there are some flowers that have a specific orientation to help the pollinator insect or bird. When a branch is taken and brought to the studio, some mistakes can be done: “For those who don’t know botanical morphology all can look good and gorgeous, but, maybe, for the ones who know and have an eye, it is upside down!“.
Despite being very focused on details and realism, this artist succeeds in crossing the line of scientific representations adding to her artworks an emotional part. This comes from her working method which consists in drawing from life and in a total ‘immersion’ into nature.
In Paradiso terrestre (Earthly Paradise) installation, viewers themselves could experience that ‘immersion’ because panels’ bending and closeness, as well as the overscale dimension of the great vegetal composition, allowed a literal incorporation inside an exotic and untouched world so far from greyness of cities.
Actually, even if this installation was so immersive, as Margherita Leoni explained me, it wasn’t completely realistic both because in the forest it’s difficult to observe in full light different plants or to admire colours closely, and because she represented at the meantime flowers with a different blooming period or even flowers, fruits, and seeds of the same plant.
Paradiso Terrestre‘s aim was indeed to celebrate nature’s beauty and to protect biodiversity threatened by deforestation.
Luciano Mello Witkowski Pinto’s artworks also have the aim to show and preserve Brazil’s untouched charm, but he focuses on indigenous populations which continue to suffer European invasions’ consequences both for the theft of lands and goods, and for the introduction of diseases.
Botanical and ethical issues respectively mark Margherita Leoni and her husband’s art.
These issues made contact, enhancing each other, during many exhibitions. In particular, the big Paradiso terrestre‘s panels were set side-by-side to Luciano Mello Witkowski Pinto’s sculptures of Amazon people or animals as the jaguar.
The will of raising awareness about Brazilian environment’s modification is powerfully shown in a series of Margherita Leoni’s artworks of 2010.
They are paintings made with coal took by the artist after devastating fires that almost completely destroyed Emas National Park, one of the biggest Brazilian protected areas also listed among UNESCO Heritage sites. These artworks’ colours evoke fire but, at the meantime, liveness of nature which immediately re-started to grow in those lands.
Margherita Leoni and Luciano Mello Witkowski Pinto come from different countries and they express themselves through different art media, but they share a passion for nature as a union and a harmony between life beings, both vegetable and animal. This artists’ couple has the aim to protect nature and to keep it untouched and I think that their artworks can transmit such a worthy cause to everyone who watch them.
Useful links: Margherita Leoni’s website
Margherita Leoni’s Facebook profile
Margherita Leoni’s Instagram profile
Luciano Mello Witkowski Pinto’s Facebook profile
Luciano Mello Witkowski Pinto’s Instagram profile
Photo courtesy by the artists