A special shout out to the Bloomsberg Commission currently on show at The Whitechapel Gallery; I’ll keep it short and sweet. Giuseppe Penone’s Spazio di Luce (Space Of Light), a 12m hollow tree trunk cast in bronze with a gold-leaf interior, turned on its side and supported by the few short branches left in place, is simply stunning, animating the truism, truth is beauty and beauty truth.
You can read elsewhere about the magical sensation you feel when you peer inside its radiant interior and the clever effect achieved by aligning the branches and the hollow trunk so that, viewed head-on, they look like a sun with a golden centre and wooden rays. The artist’s obsession with nature and man’s relationship with it, illustrated here in the fingerprints left on the bark from its first wax cast, is also well-documented elsewhere.
As much as the above, what fascinates me is the insecticide appearance of the sculpture viewed from the side; the trunk is cut into segments, each throwing their branches down to the ground or up into the air like so many arms and legs. The final segment narrows into the rounded appearance of a head. The wood is alive, so the next question must be, what is it feeling?
Are there many creatures in procession or is it one creature alone? Are the branches waving in celebration or they thrown up in pain? Ultimately, are we dancing or are we dying, and are we doing it together or doing it alone? This sculpture knows that to search for one answer in the life-cycle is a fool’s quest, because the answer is an irrefutable YES to all of the above. And inside that contradiction lies yet another space of light.
The Bloomsberg Commission: Giuseppe Penone: Spazio di Luce is at The Whitechapel Gallery until August 2013
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