Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Giuseppe Penone Solo Show Frith Street Gallery

Posted in Reviews by hannahgruy on October 30, 2008

The massive weight of Frith Street Gallery’s front door serves as the perfect introduction to Giuseppe Penone’s solo show. Consisting of five large-scale sculptural works the show meticulously examines the relation between humans and nature, materiality and spirituality. The vast weight of the sculptures is clearly evident by the material itself. In the entrance of the gallery lies an enormous carved wooden beam, entitled Scultura di linfa, 2006, with a deep crack running from one end to the other. This crack, filled with vegetable resin, resembles a deep cut in the flesh, the resin, the blood. The piece seems to be the beginning and end of the rhythmic play between all the pieces, not only because of its situation near the door, forcing the viewer to circle it twice, but also because of the idea of an open wound in the wood. Pelle di marmo, 2001, is situated on the back wall of the gallery across from the front entrance. Weighing nearly 300 kilos this marble piece is cut in such a delicate manner that it posseses an almost ephemeral sense of human skin. The massive weight of the sculpture is clear but the feeling of this weight is not.

On the left wall of the gallery hanging just at eye level is Pelle di marmo su spine d’acacia-Lucrezia, 2003. This diptych piece consists of two parts, the left is a rectangular silk canvas with wave-like patters of acacia thorns. Undulating across the canvas the viewers eyes are easily lead into the right side of the piece which is a slab of rippling marble. This movement seems almost rigid when compared to the rolling motion set by the acacia thorns.

The works in Penone’s show not only emulate nautre’s similarity with man but also man’s craving to be part of nature. Penone links organic objects with their humanistic counterparts. Resembling skin, blood and teeth Penone has taken the human aesthetic and applied it to nature. However powerful the human resemblances in the sculptures are, the grandeur of them and their simple rawness ultimatley reminds the viewer of their detachment from nature itself.

installation view

installation view

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