Born at Garessio (Piedmont) in 1947, the great Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone is one of the most original artists of our time. Trained at art school in Turin and a leading light of the Arte Povera movement from his early days, he inherited from his father, a farmer, a particular attraction for the shapes, materials and colours of the vegetal world: trees, leaves, thorns, earth and roots.
In front of nature, Penone seeks merely to be a “revealer”: he uses techniques like moulding, rubbing and imprinting, which seem to abolish the codes of representation and hence enable the artwork to stand as close as possible to the apprehended object.
But the artist must also impose his will on nature experienced as both changeable and fragile, partner and adversary. This explains the recurrence of elements of the human body in his sculptures and his increasingly frequent use of bronze, marble and stone, materials which lend his work durability. Displayed in leading museums, Penone’s constantly evolving work was the subject of a memorable retrospective at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 2004.
In his drawing for the label of Mouton Rothschild 2005, he has chosen to evoke the vine-grower’s “green fingers”, a living expansion of the vine leaf and at the same time the splayed hand of the drinker – soon to close round a glass of Mouton!