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Major Exhibition of Works by Italian Artist Giuseppe Penone at Haunch of Venison
Giuseppe Penone, Pelle di grafite - riflesso di galena, (Skin of graphite-reflection of galena) 2007, graphite on black paper on canvas, 6 elements, 200 x 200 cm each, total dimensions 400 x 600 cm. © Giuseppe Penone. Courtesy of Haunch of Venison.

LONDON.- Haunch of Venison London presents a major exhibition of works by Italian artist Giuseppe Penone (b.1947). Regarded as one of the most important artists of his generation, Penone emerged through the late 1960s and 1970s as an exponent of Arte Povera, the enduringly influencial avant garde Italian art movement. This exhibition will bring together new and recent works in wood and bronze as well as documentation relating to a series of ground-breaking projects made in 1968 and an installation of his extraordinary ‘Skin of Graphite’ drawings. This will be the largest exhibition of Penone’s work to date in London.

The central theme of Giuseppe Penone’s work is an exploration of the relationship between man and nature. For Penone, nature represents the great memory, the ever-present model of the processes of change and growth that shape the individual life. His art is often concerned with the revelation and realisation in the form of sculpture of natural processes, which may normally be hidden or invisible. He is best known for his work using trees although he also uses bronze, clay and stone and incorporates traditional techniques. At a time when many artists were abandoning such techniques, Penone began to use perhaps the most ancient method – carving. His interest in revealing natural processes led to a series of tree sculptures, made from 1969 on. The exhibition will feature Ripetere il bosco – frammento n° 28 (To repeat the forest- fragment) (2007), which continues his tradition of taking industrially sawn units of timber and, using chisels, following the knots in the planks to remove rings of wood and expose the shape of the young tree.

Various works in the exhibition relate to the act of touching, implying the mental action of gaining experience through contact. In 1968 Penone devised an action that involved him grasping a tree trunk, in which he artist then fixed a cast steel replica of his hand to the same place on the trunk and left it there for ten years. This was documented in a series of black and white photographs Alpi marittime – Continuerà a crescere tranne che in quel punto, (Maritime Alps – It will continue to grow except at this point) (1968-1978). Penone suggests he is adding his strength to the strength of the tree”, in an intense communion. After many years, the trunk began to grow around the hand, slowly absorbing the ‘souvenir’ of the touch. In Continuerà a crescere tranne che in quel punto – radiografia, (It will continue to grow except at this point- radiography) (2010). Penone now completes the process with an x-ray photograph showing the original cast steel replica of his hand inside the tree.

Penone’s use of bronze in his work often alludes to the relationship of industry and nature, suggesting that a sensitive approach to materials is still possible in an industrialised world. Proiezione (Projection) (2000), a large bronze work in which a fingerprint is developed through space in accordance with optical laws. A bronze cast is segmented into three portions and supported by a latticework of branches that hold it the eye-level of the observer.

Giuseppe Penone was born in 1947 in Garessio, Italy, a rural community south of Turin. His work is held in important collections internationally, including Tate, London and MoMA, New York. Recent exhibitions include Venice Biennale (2007), Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota, Japan (2008), Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2009) and MACs, Grand-Hornu, Belgium (2011). In 2010 Penone’s work Ideas of Stone (2004-10) inaugurated Documenta 13, which will open in Kassel in 2012. He lives and works in Italy.

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