I did a tour of the more serious Parisian galleries last Thursday to discover to my astonishment that Nature is back as a trend!
David Rosenberg proposed a flower theme itinerary (Je sème à tout vent) with 11 galleries throughout Paris.
I recommend the show Le Corps d’un jardin (The Garden’s Body) by Giuseppe Penone at the Marian Goodman gallery until June 22th.
Born in 1947 in Italy, Penone was considered part of Arte Povera. He represented his country at the 52nd Venice Biennial and had a major retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2004. This year he has been invited by the Château de Versailles to participate in its annual program for contemporary art, which also happens to be the 400th anniversary of the creation of the gardens by André Le Notre.
Giuseppe Penone constantly plays with perspectives and imprints as a way of creating sculpture. He began to focus on the ‘negative space’ of sculpture when he was a student. He once observed a professor modeling a bust and was drawn to the imprints the hand left in the clay. Ombra di Terra (2000) is the materialization of the shadow of a fingerprint. The terra cotta furrows of the imprint form a cone shaped arrow cut into three parts supported by branches in bronze. In the gallery downstairs is a huge canvas (3m x 4,8m) that depicts the palm of a hand using acacia thorns. The artist said the following about this work:
“Then I began to use thorns autonomously in works, that I linked to my research of the imprint. I have drawn an imprint with thorns, the points of contact of the skin and where the thorns are placed; represent the nerve endings of the skin. I drew the imprint on a transparent canvas covered with silk, which allowed me to stick the thorns according to the lines of the drawing.”
The notion of endings and breaks is strongly evoked in the piece called Tra… (2008). Tra… is in the form of a fossilized bronze tree trunk split into two parts composed of thin branches (common theme throughout his pieces). The gold leaf illuminates the inside of the split trunk and visually connects the parts showing where lifeblood or sap once flowed. The branches support the dead trunk as pallbearers would support a coffin.
The art of flower arrangements – Ikebana or of miniature trees – bonsai – is an ancestral art created in Japan. In the West we have: Terrariums ! Started in the 70’s, this new trend is now slowly reaching Paris. Indeed these glass (often very esthetic) bowls or jar, offer the possibility to have a designed garden on a table or a shelf in the corner of tiny urbane spaces lacking nature!
One of the main experts in the subject is the Franco-American artist Kali Vermès. She recently decided to switch from photography to making terrariums and created in 2010 her atelier called Grow Little in Paris a career she chose : “to satisfy both her green thumb and creative impulses with one activity. » When asked what inspires her, she replies : « am inspired by microcosms within larger systems, and I like to focus on those little plants that survive in unexpected places. Watching them grow inspires me, and I like seeing how they change.
Giuseppe Penone at GALERIE MARIAN GOODMAN until June 22th
79 RUE DU TEMPLE
Article and Photos by: Vanessa Thill