Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Bloomberg Commission: Giuseppe Penone: Spazio di Luce (Space of Light), Giuseppe Penone, The Whitechapel Gallery, 05 September 2012- August 2013

Highly recommended exhibition Spazio di Luce is an installational piece focussing on the relationship between the manmade modern world and untouched nature. The hollow cast of a tree trunk and surrounding branches leave something to contemplate. The life and soul of a tree has almost been stripped bare and reduced to a sad empty shell; the gold leaf is a precious reminder of this life and light. Complimenting the sculpture, walking into the gallery space the sound of a ticking clock adds a sense of time to an otherwise timeless subject, no tell-tale tree rings unfolding the decades. Time has been explored recently in my own art practice, and the rings in trees have been the compared sculpturally alongside tiny layered paper sculptures I have created and will dissect in half, much like the felling of a tree.

'Over the past 45 years, Italian artist Giuseppe Penone has examined our relationship to nature. For the latest Bloomberg Commission, he has created a twelve metre bronze cast of a tree, with a radiant gold leaf interior, which spreads across the columned gallery.
In 1969 Giuseppe Penone (b.1947) covered a tree in a thin layer of wax calling this seemingly simple, yet complex reflection on the passing of time All the Years of the Tree Plus One. He now recalls this poetic action by casting a layer of wax in bronze to spectacular result.
At first sight Spazio di Luce (Space of Light), could easily be mistaken for the straightforward life-size cast of a large larch tree. However, where once there was a tree now there is a void. The inside of the cast replicates in minute detail the tree's bark while the fingerprints on the outside safeguard the memory of the many hands involved in the sculpture's making.
The gleaming gold inside the tree pays tribute to the life-giving forces of light. At the same time, the fusion of bark and handprints alludes to the inseparable bond between humankind and nature.
Penone was part of the legendary group of Arte Povera, which called for a radical rethink of society through making works directly appealing to the senses and challenging common conventions of art making. the installation is accompanied by a yearlong programme of talks an events exploring the rich relationship between nature and the city.' (The Whitechapel Gallery. (2012). The Bloomberg Commission: Giuseppe Penone: Spazio di Luce (Space of Light). Autumn 2012- Whitechapel Gallery.)

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