Sunday, July 31, 2011

Haunch of Venison - Giuseppe Penone

On a brilliant day in London last week an unplanned moment occurred. Giuseppe Penone, I am ashamed to admit, was unknown to me when I spotted a Richard Long/Giuseppe Penone exhibition at the Haunch of Venison's temporary accommodation in the old RA Schools building.

Carving wood, working with trees, forests and the environment are the themes of Penone's work. As opposed to our great contemporary wood sculptor, David Nash (whose work I admire hugely) Penone evaluates the wood from the inside and this piece is an example.

It is called Ripetere il bosco - frammento 28 (To repeat the forest - fragment 28) 2007. Quoting from the exhibition notes "...a beam of wood from within which emerges a bare sapling like a butterfly from a cocoon. The growth-rings in the manufactured, utilitarian length of wood are followed inwards and reveal 'the way the tree rose into the sky...'"

At first it looks as though the sapling has been stuck into a block of wood, but in fact, he has worked back to 'extract' it from the solid form, back to it's early life.

Having admired Richard Long for many years it was a joy to see new works. this large Portland stone circle is bisected by Delabole slate from Cornwall and is positioned on the North/South axis. I knelt down to look at it more laterally and one of the stones nearest to me had the marks of an ammonite. These works are subtle and reward careful and considered observation. But that is the same for all works of art.

My day out in London was exceptional in many unforeseen ways. Tomorrow I shall blog about White Cube and the Chapman Brothers.

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