A tree trunk of marble, of calcium, encloses, in our thought, the carbon, the plant, and the plant the camouflage of the color of the bronze, and the color of the bronze, the green of the foliage and the trees, the flowing of the material, of water, of rivers in which there courses the subterranean life of the world, of the veins whose flow is enclosed in our body as in the marble cave of the mountains.
Gagosian Hong Kong is pleased to present Giuseppe Penone’s first gallery exhibition in Hong Kong, which includes key works from the last decade.
In an oeuvre spanning more than forty years, Penone has explored the subtle levels of interplay between man, nature, and art. His work represents a poetic expansion of Arte Povera’s radical break with conventional media, emphasizing the involuntary processes of respiration, growth, and aging that are common to both human being and tree.
In December 1968 Penone performed a series of formative acts, literally described, in a forest near his home in Garessio, Italy. In one, he interlaced the stems of three saplings in Ho intrecciato tre alberi (I have interwoven three trees); in another, Albero/filo di zinco/rame (Tree/Wire of Zinc/Copper), he made the imprint of his hand in nails on the trunk of a tree and then affixed twenty-two pieces of lead (his age at the time), joined up with zinc and copper wire. In Crescendo innalzerà la rete (Growing it will raise the net) he enclosed the top of a tree in a net weighed down with plants, while in L’albero ricorderà il contatto (The tree will remember the contact), he pressed his body to a tree, marking the points of contact with the trunk in barbed wire. In Continuerà a crescere tranne che in quel punto (It will continue to grow except at that point) he intervened in the growth processes of a tree by inserting a steel cast of his own hand; over time the tree retained the memory of his gesture. In a stream he immersed a slab of cement of the dimensions of his body with the imprints of his hands, feet, and face (La mia altezza, la lunghezza delle mie braccia, il mio spessore in un ruscello [My height, the length of my arms, my girth in a stream]).
In the early 1970s, Penone continued to work with his own body by transcribing the textures of his skin and casting his face in plaster. For Turning One’s Eyes Inside Out (1970), he was photographed wearing mirrored contact lenses, positing vision as the precise point of separation between self and environment. “The work of the poet,” he wrote, “is to reflect like a mirror the visions that his sensibility has given him, to produce the sights, the images necessary to collective imaginings.”
Engaging with, and subtly intervening in nature so as to reimagine it in artificial terms, Penone finds ever new ways to mark the persistence of biological life, harmonizing elemental occurrences in terms of his own artistic drive. In each work, he reveals the innate sculptural qualities of natural materials, chiseling marble and casting from nature to expose the deep patterns of growth and time.
In the current exhibition, Riflesso del bronzo (Reflection of Bronze) (2004) is a wall-mounted work in eight parts, where each dimly reflective, excoriated bronze plaque, successively cast from its immediate predecessor, is, literally, a mirror to time and process. The connection between act and contact, trace and imprint is further explored in Spine d’acacia—Contatto, aprile 2006 (Acacia Thorns—Contact, April 2006), in which Penone painstakingly attached thousands of sharp thorns onto paneled canvas in sweeping whorls. At the center of the composition the impression of a huge pair of lips emerges, as if pressed directly on the canvas in visceral relation with nature.
The tree and its relationship to man is among Penone’s most enduring subjects and a seemingly inexhaustible source of inspiration. A series of works, Indistinti confini (Indistinct Boundaries) (2012), with their individual subtitles citing ancient Italian rivers, consists of bare tree trunks on pedestals, carved with astonishing veracity in ghostly white marble, into which Penone has embedded rusting iron nails and bronze knots. These metal elements eventually leach into and stain the marble, so that the work appears to be, in a sense, “alive.” Foglie di pietra (Leaves of Stone) (2013), from which the exhibition takes its title, is a series of sculptures in which tall splints of delicate cast-bronze tree branches cradle found fragments of eighteenth-century ornamental stonework inspired by vegetal forms—a meditation on the endurance of nature beyond the passage of man-made culture and history.
於1968年12月，佩諾內在意大利加雷肖居所附近的樹林進行一連串創作項目。其中，於名為《我把三棵樹交織》（Ho intrecciato tre alberi / I have interwoven three trees）的作品中，他將三株幼樹的樹幹纏在一起，而於《樹木／鋅線／銅》（Albero/filo di zinco/rame / Tree/wire of zinc/copper）中，他以鐵釘在樹幹上印上手印，然後加上22（他當時的年齡）塊鉛塊，再以鋅線和銅線連起。在《生長會提高繩網》（Crescendo innalzerà la rete / Growing it will raise the net）中，佩諾內以網罩住樹頂，並以植物固定；而在《接觸樹木的烙印》（L’albero ricorderà il contatto / The tree will remember the contact）中，他將身體壓在樹上，然後用帶刺的鐵絲標示接觸的位置。在《它會繼續生長，除了那一點》(Continuerà a crescere tranne che in quel punto / It will continue to grow except at that point)中，他根據自己的手打造鋼模，然後將鋼模插入樹幹，阻礙樹木生長，而樹木亦隨時間記錄了其舉動的痕跡。另一項名為《我在溪流中的身高、手長、腰圍》（La mia altezza, la lunghezza delle mie braccia, il mio spessore in un ruscello / My height, the length of my arms, my girth in a stream）的作品中，他將一塊有其雙手、雙足和臉部印記的水泥板浸入溪流中。
在70年代初，佩諾內繼續運用身體創作，為臉部製作石膏模，重現皮膚的紋理。在《顛覆眼睛》(Turning One’s Eyes Inside Out)（1970）中，他佩戴反光隱形眼鏡拍照，將視野變成自身與環境的準確分界線。他曾寫道：「詩人的作品就像鏡子一樣反映自己看到的世界，投影出自己的視野，亦即集體想像所需的影像。」
於此次展覽中，《青銅的反射》（Riflesso del bronzo / Reflection of bronze）（2004）是由八個部分組成的掛牆作品，每一塊表面粗糙、隱約反光的青銅板都按照上一塊鑄造而成，成為反映時間和過程的一面鏡子。佩諾內於《合歡樹尖刺—接觸》（Spine d’acacia—Contatto, aprile 2006 / Acacia thorns—contact, April 2006）（2006）中進一步探索行為與接觸、痕跡與烙印之間的關係，他將數千根尖刺插入已錶框的畫布上，形成螺旋紋，中央則顯現一對巨型嘴唇形跡，彷彿大自然直接在畫布上留下印記。
佩諾內經常以樹木及其與人類的關係作為創作題材，並從中發掘無限靈感。在《模糊界線》（Idistinti confini / Indistinct boundaries）（2012）系列作品中，每件作品的副標題均引用一條古老的意大利河流，佩諾內將光禿的樹幹放在仔細雕琢的純白大理石底座上，並嵌上生鏽鐵釘及銅線結，鐵釘及銅線的鏽痕慢慢滲入大理石，故作品在某程度上而言擁有生命。與展覽同名的作品《石葉》（Foglie di pietra / Leaves of stone）（2013）是一系列精鑄而成的青銅雕塑，青銅長樹枝環抱十八世紀的植物形態裝飾石雕碎片，藉此思考大自然超越人類文化及歷史的堅忍韌力。
Augurs of Spring
As spring approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, Sydney Stutterheim reflects on the iconography and symbolism of the season in art both past and present.
Giuseppe Penone: By the Bay
Elizabeth Mangini writes on Giuseppe Penone’s installation of two sculptures at San Francisco’s Fort Mason.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020
The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.
Giuseppe Penone at Fort Mason
An outdoor installation by Giuseppe Penone in San Francisco’s historic Fort Mason features two life-size bronze sculptures cast from fallen trees. The project continues the artist’s long investigation of the perpetual give-and-take between humans and nature. In this video, Penone discusses what drew him to this landscape and the concepts behind the installation.
Giuseppe Penone: Foglie di bronzo / Leaves of Bronze
Gagosian director Pepi Marchetti Franchi speaks about Giuseppe Penone’s recent exhibition in San Francisco, detailing the various works and their relationships to the artist’s long-standing sculptural practice.
Rain of Light
One year after the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Jean Nouvel and Giuseppe Penone sat down with Alain Fleischer, Pepi Marchetti Franchi, and Hala Wardé to reflect on how the museum and Penone’s commissioned artworks for the space came to be.
Impronte di corpi nell’aria / Bodies Imprinted in the Air
September 16–November 13, 2021
Extended through November 30, 2019
Foglie di bronzo / Leaves of Bronze
September 12–November 30, 2019