The exhibition assembles some of the core ideas of the artist which have guided him from his beginnings. In the North gallery it is the form of sculpture created by the touch of one material on another, by the forces of growing, by the hand of the artist, or by human breath, the trace of pure existence. In the South gallery, it is the form derived from the artist’s approach to reality, i.e. from touching and seeing – the becoming of a form following the propagation of the eye’s look onto the world or the mere imprint of the fingers on a surface. And in the Third Floor gallery it is the grasp of the hand which tries to capture what is escaping, the paradox of trying to give a fixed form to the flow of reality. Penone creates poetic metaphors for these experiences, and in the exhibition these metaphors correspond with each other as they grow out of the classical and ephemeral sculptural material he utilizes: glass, marble and bronze, as well as live trees and dead leaves.
A selection of key early works from 1970 to 1997 will be shown in conjunction with a series of new sculptures in bronze and marble which reflect the show’s title,Indistinti confini/ Indistinct Boundaries. The early works include Soffio di foglie / Breath of leaves, a floor sculpture of myrtle leaves from 1979-2015, which will be accompanied by a more recent and related work on canvas, as well as the major object Gli anni dell’albero più uno / The years of the tree plus one, 1969-2013. Early photographic works include the black and white photograph, Rovesciare i propri occhi/ To reverse one’s eyes, 1970, and Guanti / Gloves, a pair of two color photographs from 1972. Propagazione dello sguardo/Propagation of sight, 1997, a group of seven trees in pots with a glass element will also be shown. The exhibition will be accompanied by a brochure with an essay by Dieter Schwarz. A full exhibition catalogue will follow this June.
The new works in marble and bronze, Indistinti confini/ Indistinct Boundaries, 2012 embody Penone’s perception of the binary nature of material form, revealing the distinction between the inner growth and external forces of the life of a tree, as represented in pure white marble and contrasting bronze. Penone writes, “The indistinct nature of the marble encloses infinite millennial existences compressed by the relentless weight of gravity, existences supported by the pure white calcium that has structured its form. The whiteness of the calcium envelops our thoughts, appears in our smiles, articulates our movements. The marble belongs to us, nurtures and sustains and attests to our existence. A tree trunk of marble, of calcium, encloses in our thought, the carbon, the plant, and the plant the mimicry of the color of the bronze, the green of the foliage and the trees, the flow of matter ....where courses the subterranean life of the world. ”