Spazio di Luce (Space of Light) is a stunning tree sculpture produced by Giuseppe Penone. The Italian artist came upon a fallen tree in the mountains and was immediately drawn to it because it was broken into perfectly sized pieces for casting in bronze. And so, section by section, he covered the hollow tree’s interior with the metallic substance. On the exterior, what looks like bark is actually wax that was applied in multiple layers. As Penone layered the wax onto the surface with both a brush and his bare hands, the material began to reveal both the texture of the bark as well as the impressions of the artist’s fingerprints.
The installation was created as part of The Bloomberg Commission, an annual invitation for one international artist to produce a site-specific artwork at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. In the final presentation, each section of tree takes on an animated life of its own. Many of the lively branches appear leg-like, creating a confusing blur between plant and animal. Visitors are invited to inspect the shimmering golden interior up-close and to peer through the long, thin tunnels, which radiate light from all different directions. According to the Gallery’s website, “This fusion of bark and hand prints continues Penone's career-long concern with setting the human body in dialogue with the organic world which it inhabits.”