'It celebrates the elevation of life' - Giuseppe Penone unveils sculpture in Saudi Arabia
'Source of Light' has been installed at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran
Italian artist Giuseppe Penone has unveiled a new sculpture at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Source of Light is constructed from three trees cast in bronze, which surround a fourth, stainless-steel tree, hovering above the ground and rising more than 90 feet into the air.
This central tree has been hollowed out and the inside of the trunk covered in gold leaf and LED lights, allowing visitors to look up through a shimmering golden tunnel to the sky. It is split up into 12 sections and has 64 branches shooting off the trunk, connecting it with the three bronze trees.
Speaking at the unveiling of Source of Light at Ithra on Thursday evening, Penone said: “The idea was to try to mark the energy that was inside the building. I think this piece, a tree that escapes gravity, was the right work for the space.”
Source of Light has been installed at the very heart of Ithra, which officially opened in June last year. This spot, a deep well at the bottom of a spiralling ramp, is the symbolic location of where Saudi Arabia first struck oil in 1938.
In a statement, Penone, whose early work is associated with Italy’s ARTE Povera movement and who has since had solo exhibitions around the world, explained: “[The sculpture] symbolises the ‘Source’, where oil needed for the growth and development of the world’s economy was discovered.
"It celebrates with its own form and materials, including the gold that covers the central tree’s inner surface, the elevation of life."
Director of Ithra, Ali Al-Mutairi added: “[Penone’s] poignant integration of ideas and materials located at the core of our built environment resonates deeply, while creating space for contemplation.
“In our quest to foster cross-cultural exchange, this work offers visitors a unique and tangible example of global artistic expression. Penone has synthesised memory and nature in dialogue with architecture to inspire our consideration of what has yet to be discovered. We are honoured to present such a work to the world.”
Ithra is a Saudi Aramco initiative, featuring a cinema, theatre and library. It was included by TIME in its 2018 list of the World’s Greatest Places.
Updated: May 3, 2019 03:57 PM