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Giuseppe Penone's 'Spazio di luce' on view in the oval room of Gagosian Gallery in Rome
Giuseppe Penone, Spazio di luce (detail), 2008, bronze and gold, 98 7/16 × 787 3/8 × 97 7/16 inches (250 × 2000 × 245 cm), ed. of 3 © Archivio Penone.


ROME.- …There is a place on the border between France and Italy, the Valley of Miracles (Valle delle Meraviglie), where there are circa 30,000 rock carvings around Mount Bego, a sacred mountain.

The miracle is not the carvings, but the beauty of the site with its valleys, its mountains, its larches, and the presence of the sea evoked by the smell of the grass.

It is a beauty that suggests a sense of sacredness.

It is a protected area, a natural park in which the vegetation and the territory are periodically maintained. I know woodsmen who work in the park under the supervision of forest rangers, and I go to them when I need larches. The altitude tapers the form of these larches. Large at the base, their trunk narrows rapidly, accentuating its conical shape. I used one of these trees for Space of light. I coated the trunk and the branches with a layer of wax, as if it were a year’s growth in the tree’s life cycle. When it came into contact with the trunk, the wax was imprinted with the pattern of the bark and the signs of the hands that applied it.

I cast it in bronze in eight sections of circa 170 centimeters, obtaining a covering with handprints on the external surface and the negative trace of the tree bark on the inside.

The surface on the inside was covered in gold. The eight sections of the sculpture are lined up horizontally one after another at a distance of about 50 centimeters.

Looking at the interior, one’s gaze follows the absent core of the tree and the light reflected off the gold emphasizes the space, a space of light that testifies to the absence of the tree, a being whose form and existence are defined by the search and the exposure to the light.

Space of light extends for twenty meters towards the line of the horizon, imprisons the light and the gaze in its interior, directing them towards the central focal point of the vista.

The gaze is closed into the interior of the bronze, a year of bronze…

—Giuseppe Penone, 22 Opere a Versailles, Château de Versailles, 2013

Spazio di luce / Space of light was created in 2008 and exhibited at Whitechapel Gallery, London in 2012–13, the Château de Versailles in 2013, and Forte di Belvedere, Florence in 2014. The sculpture is now being presented in the oval room of Gagosian Gallery in Rome.

Giuseppe Penone was born in 1947 in Garessio, Italy. He lives and works in Paris and Turin. Public collections include Tate Gallery, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; MAXXI, Rome; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2004); Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota, Japan (2008); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, United Kingdom (2009); Musée des Arts Contemporains, Grand-Hornu, Belgium (2011); Documenta 13, Kassel (2012); “The Bloomberg Commission: Giuseppe Penone,” Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2012); “Penone Versailles,” Château de Versailles, France (2013); “Giuseppe Penone,” Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2013); “Ideas of Stone,” Madison Square Park, New York (2013–14); “Prospettiva Vegetale,” Forte di Belvedere—Boboli Gardens, Florence (2014); “Breath is a Sculpture,” Beirut Art Center, Beirut (2014); and “Giuseppe Penone,” Musée Grenoble, France (2014). Penone co-represented Italy in the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007) and was awarded the Praemium Imperiale by the Japan Art Association in 2014.

The Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas will present a major solo exhibition of Penone’s work from September 19, 2015 to February 10, 2016.






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