IMAGES Vistamare, Milano
WORDS Charlotte Di Qual
Curator Ben Broome shares with STXDYOZ the genesis and the underlying narrative behind Claudia Comte’s latest solo exhibition, inviting us into a living environment, where nature and urban space collide.

Upon entering Galleria Vistamare, visitors immediately engage in a haptic-physical encounter with the site-specific installation “Earth Work” (2024), which blankets the gallery floor with dark, rich soil sourced from the Swiss artist’s garden – a simple yet elegant display solution reminiscent of metonymy used as a formal strategy to link Claudia Comte’s organic sculptures and earth-painted wall paintings to their home, the hills surrounding Basel, where the artists lives and works. Reflecting on the aesthetic counterpoint between raw and finished materials, Broome comments:

“For these works to sit in the earth from which they came, I think is poetic. They’re sort of from the natural world, of the natural world, from the earth and of the earth”.

The act of transplanting a fragment of the artist’s garden, a souvenir from her home, into an urban context, creates a striking aesthetic and conceptual contrast. Broome notes a departure from Comte’s previous exhibitions:

“Instead of embracing the natural landscape, we chose instead to create a tension between the metropolis of Milan and the nature from which these works came.”

If historically Comte’s exhibitions have mirrored their environments, “Home Sweet Home Comte” presents a shift in paradigm by showcasing the works in direct opposition to the exhibition’s locality.

The series of sculptural works at the exhibition’s core evoke imagery of coral, cacti, and foliage, bridging European biomes with desert or reef landscapes. Comte continues her exploration of the delicate balance of natural ecosystems and human impact through these polished sculptures, all carved in 2023 from a single Sequoia tree fallen near her home. Broome refers to them as a “family”, with the tree as the “mother” of the works. Each sculpture, with its anthropomorphic qualities, bears a distinct personality, reflected in names inspired by friends, family, and colleagues of Comte. For instance, the tallest sibling, Francesca (2023), stands over three meters in height and is carved from a single piece of wood, mirroring the form of its maternal Sequoia leaf. Broome observes,

“They really exist in relation to the body and in terms of scale you feel them. But because of that grandness, that heights, you truly experience them in relation to your own existence”.

“And I think the wood also has a personality. Each material that Claudia works with has a different personality that requires different working methodologies. Sequoia as a physical material is a soft wood with beautiful pink hues, kind of unique”, he adds.

The verticality of the sculptures and the horizontality of the soil conjoin in the monumental wall paintings. These paintings expand the dichotomy between Vistamare’s white walls and the dark earth covering the ground, as Comte substitutes pigment with soil, meticulously arranged in oscillating patterns that mirror nature’s processes. Broome explains: “The pattern of the paintings concerns symmetry. There’s a sort of regularity to them. It speaks again to the natural world, its symmetry”.
While the use of earth as an artistic medium evokes historical movements like Arte Povera and Land Art, “Home Sweet Home” diverges with its maximalist and confrontational approach. The opposing forces — nature and city, pictoriality and symmetry, verticality and horizontality, aseptic white walls and dark, rich soil — charge the space of Vistamare with tension.
“Home Sweet Home” transcends the conventional notion of “home” as a physical space, inviting visitors to reflect on their own position as participants in the artwork, ultimately prompting a reevaluation of our place within the delicate relationship we maintain with the natural world.


“Home Sweet Home” is an unmissable experience, open until June 8, 2024, at Vistamare Gallery, via Spontini 8, Milan.