Curated by Ida Gianelli and Giorgio Verzotti
The entire body of work produced by Giuseppe Penone (Garessio, Cuneo, Italy, 1947) investigates nature and its many evolving forms. He works in direct contact with the natural environment, attempting to visualise and modify the growth cycle of natural elements, particularly trees. Penone’s objective is to demonstrate the primordial symbiotic relationship between human beings and the natural world. For the artist, nature is not a force to be conquered but a combination of phenomena and transformative processes whose outcome should be analysed, in order to derive a system of rules that can be expressed through the language and forms of art.
The works exhibited here exemplify how the artist intervened on natural cycles in an attempt to redefine artistic modes of expression and, consequently, culture itself. In the Alberi (Trees) series, begun in 1969, Penone carved wooden beams in such a way as to recuperate the image of the original trees, thus creating an emblematic representation of the idea of a forest. He created the anthropomorphic shapes of Le Patate (Potatoes, 1977) by growing the tubers in special containers, an exercise that reveals the primary force of nature and humanity’s inability to control it. In other works, such as Palpebre (Eyelids) Soffi (Gusts) and Unghie (Nails), the artist immersed himself in the infinite “landscapes” of a hand, dried leaf, eyelid or nail, tracing their many roads and pathways to create maps that, once initiated, can continue on for centuries.
Penone’s artistic vision is extremely poetic, and seeks to create unity between human beings and the earth, which fuse together to produce a homogenous visual memory.