On the occasion of the installation “Idee di Pietra” in Gstaad, Switzerland, Gagosian is pleased to present selected works by Giuseppe Penone in the Geneva gallery.
The works on view reveal Penone’s ongoing dialogue with the surfaces and patterns of nature—from trees, vines, and thorns to mountains, gold, and flesh. While the Idee di pietra (Ideas of Stone) drawings depict small rocks balanced atop twisting fingers and tree branches, addressing concepts of gravity, weight, and scale, the Propagazione (Propagation) drawings—inspired by the concentric rings of crosscut trees—become metaphors for memory and identity. In the Indistinti confini (Indistinct Boundaries) sculptures, Penone renders tree parts in bronze and marble, uniting additive and subtractive formal processes within harmonious, organic forms.
For Pelle del monte (Mountain Skin), quarried blocks of Carrara marble retain a fine surface crust of incidental dirt, insects, and organic matter. Each of these works is, literally, a slice or cross-section of the outer skin of the mountain, which Penone then carves out to reveal the “vascular system” of the stone, underscoring the classical analogy between stone and flesh. And in Spine d’acacia - Contatto 16 maggio 2008 (Acacia thorns—Contact, May 16, 2008), thousands of sharp thorns, painstakingly attached onto paneled canvas, form subtle zones and vectors of energy. Both vicious and appealing, each thorn represents a nerve ending, evoking the sensitivity of skin when exposed to various environmental factors.
Giuseppe Penone was born in 1947 in Garessio, Italy and currently lives and works in Paris and Turin, Italy. In his multimedia oeuvre, comprising sculpture, performance, drawing, and installation, Penone investigates involuntary processes such as respiration, growth, and aging—blurring the distinction between human and botanical life, and giving form to their shared status as vital sculpture. A protagonist of Arte Povera—the artistic movement that emerged in Italy in the late 1960s, exploring the use of commonplace materials as a political stance—Penone underscores the profound effects of man’s interaction with the natural world.