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Seeing with closed eyes: Konrad Fischer Galerie opens exhibition of works by Giuseppe Penone
Giuseppe Penone, Untitled.

by Laurent Busine

DUSSELDORF.- In the past, Giuseppe Penone rubbed graphite directly onto walls in order to reveal their structure, the one left behind after the builder’s hand had smoothed the surface. This age-old skill, buried in the plasterwork and inherent to the material itself, is revealed in all its curious complexity: the criss-cross lines, a confusion of traces and concealed masses henceforward became visible.

Following a similar approach, by drawing with graphite, Penone has meticulously copied the enlarged image of eyelids onto large sheets of paper, as well as onto the walls, in great detail: the lines and veins, the delicate skin and the marks of ageing; this fragile skin which, when closed, prevents the eye from projecting its gaze, turning its vision inwards and reducing the eye to darkness. Giuseppe Penone then precisely glued acacia thorns onto large canvases which in turn, side by side, reproduce the exact outline of the two eyelids. Placed either side of a marble plaque, we contemplate these “closed eyes“ face-on, struck by the peculiar sense of danger presented by the thorns, which define the eye that they can pierce. We see ourselves in the closed eyes. We see ourselves in the darkness traversed by thoughts and dreams. In the whiteness of the stone and the grey veins, the central, marble plaque echoes the material revealed on the wall when it was rubbed.

Thus the walls, the eyelids and the marble all contain a longstanding, ancient history, made up of entangled, unsuspected networks that are revealed by the drawing.

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