Pau Brasil

The green myth of Margherita Leoni

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"I represent a world that we see, but do not perceive or hear. We need to see it magnified to understand its importance ad uniqueness, to stop and let it speak, to hear it and feel it close to us".

The exhibition Pau Brasil presents the works of art of painter Margherita Leoni, developed during her experience in the tropical forest of Brazil since 2000. The focus of her work is the inseparable relationship between humanity and nature and the need to recover a sense of belonging to the natural world.

Pau Brasil - from which the Brazilian country took his name - is the common Portuguese term for the brazilwood (Caesalpinia echinata, family Fabaceae), a tree endemic to Brazil that is threatened with extinction due to large scale cutting for extraction of red dye from its wood.

Exhibition topics
The exhibition presents some distinctive stages of the work of Margherita Leoni and is organized into five sections: Contemplation, Paradise Lost, Planting -Being nature, Myth, Human beings - Plants.
In 2010, while Margherita Leoni was busy collecting and interpreting the natural environment of Brazil, a fire devastated the Parque Nacional das Emas, a national reserve in the Cerrado. After the fire, Margherita returned to the park and stayed there for a week, becoming a witness to the incident and documenting the natural disaster with video-maker Ricardo Martensen. Feeling a strong sense of loss and bewilderment, she walked upon the ashes, touched the embers, collected them and brought them to her studio. Between 2010 and 2013, she produced fifty works, mixing the ashes of destroyed tree species with colour, in an act that evokes certain tribal traditions and expresses the desire to recreate life that has been lost. 

Margherita Leoni was born in Bergamo in 1974. She graduated from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan in 1997. In the same year, she spent six months in the Reserva Biològica de Quebrangulo, where she began to transpose the various species of wild Brazilian vegetation to paper, painting with watercolours. Thus began her work dedicated to wild plants, with particular focus on the main Brazilian biomes, rainforest (Amazon), humid tropical forest and the Cerrado. In 1999 she married Brazilian sculptor Luciano Mello Witkowski Pinto and moved to the city of Americana- São Paulo in Brazil. From 2000 to 2001 she studied Botanical Morphology and Systematic Botany at the Escola Superior de Agricultura 'Luiz de Queiroz' of the University of São Paulo. Over the years she has developed a solid friendship and professional collaboration with Harri Lorenzi, the well-known Brazilian botanist specialized in the study and preservation of the wild plants of Brazil, who since 1990 has collected 3,500 plant species, mostly wild varieties, in the Jardim Botanico Plantarum in Nova Odessa, which he designed. Since 2000, she has exhibited her work in public spaces and international art galleries. She has done work as a botanical painter for the Departamento de Botânica /IB-UNESP/ Botucatu and for the Departamento de Ciências Biológicad da ESALQ/USP de Piracicaba in São Paulo. Her son Leon was born in 2006 and her daughter Iris in 2014. She lives in Brazil, but travels often to Italy, maintaining close ties with her culture of origin.
Progetto a cura di
Anna Lisa Ghirardi, Osvaldo Negra e Francesco Rigobello

Anna Lisa Ghirardi, Margherita Leoni

Anna Lisa Ghirardi, Osvaldo Negra, Francesco Rigobello

Supervisione generale
General supervision
Michele Lanzinger

Coordinamento allestimenti MUSE
MUSE exhibit coordination
Alessandra Tomasi

Anna Lisa Ghirardi, Margherita Leoni, Osvaldo Negra, Francesco Rigobello

Blanco y Negro snc

Progetto grafico allestimenti
Exhibit graphic design
Roberto Nova

Realizzazione allestimento
Exhibit setting

Comunicazione MUSE
MUSE Communication
Elisa Tessaro, Loris Berardi, Serena Morelli, Monika Vettori, Silvia Benatti

Progetto grafico comunicazione
Communication graphic design
Fabio Medolago, Grafo
Sara Lupini, Grafo

Si ringraziano per la collaborazione
Enrico Betti, Paolo Bonvecchio, Stefano Bottarelli,
Eleonora Callovi, Sabrina Candioli, Massimo Eder,
Viviana Era, Renzo Leoni, Giulio Menestrina,
Franco Modena, Alessandra Pallaveri,
Francesco Papi, Paolo Previde Massara,
Progetto 92 cooperativa sociale, Chiara Rindone,
Mariano Tava, Giuliano Sartori, Servizio Sostegno
Occupazionale e Valorizzazione Ambientale P.A.T.,
Gianluca Valle
From 22 gennaio 2016
To 10 aprile 2016
MUSE opening hours
For whom
Included in the MUSE entrance ticket