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Giuseppe Penone

8 October 2022 - 29 January 2023

Museum Voorlinden presents a large retrospective of Giuseppe Penone (1947) from 8 October 2022 to 29 January 2023. In Voorlinden, the land art and arte povera artist sheds new light on our Italian relationship with nature. The exhibition includes both early and recent work, offers surprises and stimulates all the senses. Voorlinden shows iconic sculptures and immersive installations, alternated with modest and intimate works by Penone.

For Giuseppe Penone, nature is – and trees in particular are – both subject and material. In his sculptures, installations and drawings he incorporates tree trunks, leaves, marble and leather. In his poetic oeuvre he reveals our intimate connection with nature and makes us aware of its creative and transformative cycle and forces. For example, in Ripetere il bosco (1968) Penone peels off the annual rings of a tree to reveal its origins. In this way he unlocks growth processes that often remain invisible to the human eye.

Giuseppe Penone: ‘I feel the forest breathing, and hear the slow, inexorable growth of the wood. I match my breathing to that of the green world around me, I feel the flow of the tree around my hand placed against the trunk.’

portret van Giuseppe Penone en detail vanLeft: Giuseppe Penone, Rovesciare i propri occhi (To Reverse One’s Eyes), 1970
mirroring contact lenses, action by the artist. Right: Photo © Archivio Penone
© Giuseppe Penone, Biforcazione, 1991, detail, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2020.

Sensory experience

The work of this artist stimulates all our senses: it is about touch, sight, smell, breathing and the subcutaneous. This all comes together in the key work Sculture di linfa (2005-2007), previously shown at the Venice Biennale. As soon as you walk into this immersive installation, you can smell the leather lining the walls and discover the patterns of a tree bark that are printed on the animal skins. It feels like you’re entering the interior of a tree. Penone’s work is created by touch and through intensive manual labour, which will literally be seen in Propagazione (2020). In this work, the print of Penone’s own finger is the starting point for a monumental, labour-intensive wall drawing. It is an exhibition which turns our view outwards but at the same time it makes us aware of our inner self.

Director Suzanne Swarts: ‘Giuseppe’s oeuvre is true poetry. He shows you beauty that surrounds us every day, but which we often do not perceive. He makes us aware of our sense of touch, sight and breath, which makes us look differently at the world around us. Surrounded by his work, you will feel closer to nature than ever.’

Penone and Voorlinden

Penone’s work emphasises and reinforces Voorlinden’s relationship between art and nature. Voorlinden has been following his work for a long time. For instance, in the 1990s his bronze sculpture Biforcazione (1991) became part of sculpture garden Clingenbosch. In an era in which our relationship to nature is an important topic, this is the moment to have the highlights from Penone’s oeuvre take over the spaces of Voorlinden.

About Giuseppe Penone

The Italian artist Giuseppe Penone was born in 1947 in Garessio and studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Turin, where he still lives and works. He was the youngest representative of the arte povera, a group of artists in Italy that opposed industrialisation and dehumanisation in art in the late 1960s. His oeuvre, in which land art also plays a major role, is displayed all over the world in museums, public spaces and gardens. His work is included in important collections, such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London.

More information: www.giuseppepenone.com