Thursday, 14 March 2013

Giuseppe Penone - Conduits of Light

On Thursday I popped into the Whitechapel Gallery with my mother for a general snoop around. I didn't know at the time that Giuseppe Penone was exhbiting there and I wasn't quite prepared for the treat. So delighted was I with his writings and observations, that I had to share them here. 

 Spazio di Luce

Rather like David Nash at Kew, trees have been a focal point for Penone throughout his career. However, Penone appears to be more interested in bringing the outdoors inside and in his work he investigates the relationship between our bodies and the ecosystems we inhabit. It is this last bit which I think struck such a cord with me, as I am myself very interested in mankind's relationship to the botanical world.

From the very beginning, Penone has reflected on his work by writing poetic aphorisms. Two of these have been selected for the exhibition, and I have included one here. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I have read in a while and quite thought provoking. This poem helped me understand his magical golden piece: Spazio di Luce. 

The stretching of a branch through space in search of light
has the same structure as a glance.
The tree is an enormous eye made up of many smaller eyes.
Each of its leaves is an eye made up of many smaller eyes.
Each of its leaves is an eye that catches as much light as possible ...
In every eye, there is an overturned tree
that presses its leaves against the retina.

Looking through the bronze tree it felt like I was travelling through a worm hole - through time. I felt like I was deep underground in a mine, I felt like I was on a journey to the sun. I was being transported, through the xylem and phloem. Incredible.

I totally recommend seeing this golden tree. It's a well curated exhibition and it'll be on show in the Whitechapel Gallery until 13th August 2013.


  1. Penone's work is truly thought provoking and I am not surprised that you were so moved by these pieces. A kindred spirit you might say. Hope to catch this exhibition myself when I visit home.

    1. Thanks Jarnie - yes it is a bit thought provoking isn't it? I have started looking at trees in a totally different way. Sticks with eyes.