Sunday, February 6, 2011

Giuseppe Penome (b.1947) Les Arbre Des Voyelles 1999, Jardine Tulliers, Paris. By craniv boyd.

Giuseppe Penome (b.1947) Les Arbre Des Voyelles 1999, Jardine Tulliers, Paris. By craniv boyd.


If a tree falls in the first arronndissement in Paris will you hear it? If it is a large uprooted tree cast in bronze you will see it, but a passing glance by a passerby walking in the garden adjacent the Louvre may not be enough to notice this large-scale and monumental exemplar of sculpture from an Italian artistic movement committed to unmonumentaliltey, arte povera.


What most winter visitors to the Jardine Tulliers will notice is that there is a tree trunk without leaves in a state of repose in a small plot of green with other still living trees growing but also without leaves. The dead tree trunk looks like a mistake the overworked landscape architect has not had time to correct in preparing to plant new flowers for the onset of spring. Moving closer, or returning the next morning or the morning after that, one will notice that the dead tree has remained unmoving and it does not seem to bother anybody. Looking even closer visitors are greeted by two plastic plaques, one with a walking silhouette of a human with a big red "X" over him/her, modern hieroglyph for "do not walk on grass" the second plaque is that of the description of an art work, this familiar type of plaque in this garden that accompanies the numerous 17th and 18th century marble statues, is strikingly rendered unfamiliar in its placement next to a work that bears no resemblance to the appearance of the other art in the same garden.


Giuseppe Penome has cast a tree with roots and tall branches in bronze, it was commission and installed at the turn of the millennium. Arbre des Voyelles is an understated powerhouse of an artwork. It is cleverly camouflaged dead tree amongst the living trees, and in its scale it is a gesture of minimalism and realism, to cast an overlooked life-form of earth that until recently was both misunderstood and underestimated, trees. Yes appreciated as raw material and natural resource for wood, paper, fuel and construction material, overlooked as the proverbial lungs of the earth's atmosphere.


The woods have been here for a long time, and humankind has often in his and her art chosen to represent him and herself, instead of portraying plant life. Plants the neighbors and cohabitants of Triassic and Jurassic ages, the Dinosaurs walked in jungles and those jungles were made of living trees. Westerners have been rather late to the game of understating the vital role plants have on our Planet we have not made so many art works to celebrate the plants we rely on.


Arbre des Voyelles has tall branches that extend out, touching the trunks of five living trees that are in the same plot of land in the garden. It is as if the large bronze art tree is sharing its strength and power with the trees still living, perhaps it is the inverse, that the living trees donate their energy to the bronze tree forming a circuit, the bronze tree was made from a tree that was once living, a tree that had to bee uprooted cleaned trimmed and sculpted of course before it was cast in a foundry. Penome's tree is part of a unit, a work that still lives, other trees have been cast in bronze before, like a large tree trunk of drift wood, cast by artist Julian Schnabel in the permanent collection of architect Phillip Johnson. Schnabel's driftwood tree is large and is treated with a finish of stark white paint, to offer a strong loud color contrast between nude bronze and white paint. His drift wood sculpture does honor the plants of the world, but it speaks much more towards the oceans random destructive force and power to wash a massive dead tree up on a beach in long island. That sculpture is in Johnson's New Canaan Connecticut compound, it rests outside an underground viewing gallery for the late architects private art collection. Both big bronze trees are near a museum of a sort, however Penome's tree is more accessible due to its central metropolitan location, his is an expression of the silent power of the trees and their life cycle. If a tree falls in the forest it can become fertilizer and mulch for the seedlings to come, it gives of itself to those trees that come after it. By craniv boyd

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