Giuseppe Penone: Fui, Sarò, Non Sono, 08 Sep 2016 — 22 Oct 2016

Giuseppe Penone: Fui, Sarò, Non Sono

Marian Goodman Gallery presents works emblematic of Giuseppe Penone’s interest in the metaphysical relationship of his body to the living ecosystem. A primary example of this, “Trattenere 6, 8, 12 anni di crescita” (Continuerà a crescere tranne che in quel punto) (2004-2016) is installed in the lower gallery. In 1968, Penone attached a bronze cast of his hand to the trunk of a young tree. 6 years later, he cast this tree in situ, and again at years 8 and 12, recording the growing symbiosis of his hand and the tree enveloping it. “Trattenere 6, 8, 12 anni di crescita (Continuerà a crescere tranne che in quel punto)” comprises these three casts made in the past 12 years. While the artist’s grasping hand hinders the natural growth, each tree adapts to the constraints of the metallic touch, subsequently embracing and absorbing the hand. Here, both the human body and the tree are simultaneously metamorphosed to become one inseparable entity. Its sculptural identity continues to organically evolve and link its past, present and future.
“Respirare l’ombra” (2008), a wall installation consisting of cages of laurel leaves, will cover one of the main walls in the lower gallery and perfume the space with its scent. While tactility is central to Penone’s practice, the sense of smell is employed to further transform our experience of the world around us. A forest of interweaving bronze branches supporting terracotta casts (Terra su terra, 2014/2015) and a group of marble and bronze tree sculptures (Indistinti confini, 2012) will populate both gallery floors. Like “Respirare l’ombra”, these works recreate an environment similar to the woods of Garessio, Italy, where Penone had immersed himself during his formative years. The man-made parts of the works – the cages in “Respirare l’ombra” and the marble that encases the roots of Indistinti confini – at first appear to interrupt the natural progression observed in forest-like environments, but eventually surrender to the organic force that searches for harmonious unity through gentle transfiguration.
In the lower gallery, Penone returns in full circle to his theme of ‘touch’ with Corteccia (1986), a series of terracotta portraits representing his daughter Caterina. Certain areas are painted with majolica glaze to emphasize the artist’s touch, which goes beyond serving as a tool but as an object itself for the sculpture. Gianfranco Maraniello states in his essay “Giuseppe Penone: the Possibility of Sculpture”, “The hand itself is the first mould for every form with its imprint transferred to the material to be shaped, thus initiating a constitutive negative dialectic.”

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