Like so many others, this exhibitions has been suspended during the pandemic. Today it still isn’t possible to visit the gallery, but according to Elaine Bedell, CEO of the Southbank Centre (the institution to which the gallery belongs), the exhibition will reopen its doors on 1st August, following social distancing guidelines. Good news there then!
What visitors will find there on their return is an ode to trees and forests which defines the recognition of this perennial woody plant as one of the elements that have shaped human civilisation and is a source of inspiration for the artist community. The exhibition is a curatorship of diverse artists who question the traditional conventions of landscape representation, whose works display social and environmental awareness.
There are photographic proposals such as that of the Canadian artist Rodney Graham, and the unsettling atmosphere of the urban escape George Shaw creates in his paintings. There are descriptive illustrations by the Colombian indigenous artist Abel Rodríguez too. But there is one series of works that set themselves apart; towering milestones that prevent visitors from falling into forest fatigue. We are talking about the installation by the Italian artist Giuseppe Penone, in which the artist scrapes away at the wood of a 12 metre felled tree, revealing its internal structure and turning back time to reveal earlier stages of its growth. There is also the majestic white olive tree by Ugo Rondinone - more than two-thousand-years-old - or the video-installation by the Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Athila, made up of 6 screens showing a giant spruce being projected horizontally, with each section playing slightly out of sync, evoking the powerful influence these living beings have on humans.
Whether it’s because of its poetic nature, its desire to raise awareness about the reality of forests today, or its call for adventure, this collective exhibition it’s an invitation to reflect on the function of trees and forest on our planet.