The latest installation in the Mad Sq. Art series is a breathtaking set of sculptures by Italian artist Giuseppe Penone. Elements in the series, titledIdeas of Stone (Idee di Pietra), are beautifully simple in form, yet harrowingly expressive. Using the weight of the stones, Penone manipulates branches of live trees, making them seem alternately exquisitely fragile and deceptively strong.
In his creations, Penone takes two natural elements and creates a decidedly unnatural situation, making us feel suspended in a strange, fantastical moment. Says the artist of his series, “A tree summarizes in an exemplary way the contrast between two forces: the force of gravity and the weight of life we are part of. The need and the search for balance, which exists in every living being to counteract the force of gravity, is evident in every step and in every small action of our lives. It is a river stone that appears amid the branches of a tree. A stone suspended amid the branches of a tree, separated from the soil by a structure that is not land and is not air, a stone that lies between the force of gravity and the force of the attraction of light.”
Giuseppe Penone in Madison Square Park
My favorite piece is this one, a delicately reaching tree balancing one stone between its branches while bowing under the weight of another, which pins its arm to the ground in a graceful arc. Triumphant and restrained, delicate and strong, it perfectly embodies Penone’s dual forces, and creates an exquisite silhouette against the park’s snowscape.