Recently I had the opportunity to witness a conference with Giuseppe Penone at Punta Della Dogana discussing his artistic career as a leader of the Arte Povera movement. This was the second discussion of Penone’s I had the opportunity to attend, the first was at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. It was interesting to see how similar situations arose at both talks about the misinterpretation of his work in a humorous manner.
Often completed works of art get purpose imposed onto them according to the materiality the artist uses to create them. At the discussion, the host Daniela Lancioni, an art critic and curator of the Spazio per l’Arte Contemporanea in Tor Bella Monaca and at Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, had described various works of Penone’s reading into the materialities a deeper subconscious conceptual purpose.
For instance, Daniela began to describe Penone’s Spoglia d’oro su spine d’acacia d’acacia (bocca), a work made of thorns glued onto a silk surface. She posed the idea that these sharp thorns were piercing the silk as something soft, delicate, and feminine. Penone calmly responded that actually silk was the just the material which these thorns adhered well to.
Responses like this, for me, act as a breath of honest fresh air. The audience, visitors of galleries viewing art, get a small understanding of the real art making process; not everything is purely conceptual, but also technically practical. Though, understanding the practicality and the original intentions of a work of art, it is okay to find your own insights and way of relating.
At the end of the conference I had asked Giuseppe if he had any words of advice for emerging artists. His response was humorously “no”. He rather not shape your free way of thinking.
By: Jaspal Birdi