Image: In the colourful forest of art
Rona Pondick, Head in Tree, 2006-08. Installed in the exhibition GROW: The Tree in Art, Belvedere Museum, Vienna. © Belvedere, Vienna, Photo: Johannes Stoll.
Featured in Wiener Zeitung

In the colourful forest of art Rona Pondick

29 September 2022

By Johannes Gaisfuss

"A tree that falls rumbles more than a blade of grass that you mow," says a proverb. This underlines that the loss of forests, or even an individual tree, has lasting consequences for humans, animals and the entire planet, not only in this time of concern about climate change. The tree’s universal importance, not only as a protective force, has also left its mark on art: the tree was and is an important symbol. The Lower Belvedere presents a current exhibition with the focus on this very plant, themed 'Grow. The tree in art". 

This exhibition is dedicated to a very topical subject, says Stella Rollig, the Director General of the Belvedere. Stella explains that the tree is to be understood, among other things, as a symbol of the climate crisis. She is also pleased that the show is a "green exhibition." "Grow. The tree in art" was designed to be ecologically sustainable, for example there were no plastic adhesive letters on the walls. Instead, the wall texts were painted. Miroslav Hal'ák, curator of the exhibition, also emphasizes that it was a great challenge "not to present such a big topic in an excessive manner."

The tree as the backbone

The show was divided into three "chapters." In the first part, the plant can be seen as a spiritual symbol. The second deals with the tree as a sign of knowledge and as a source of inspiration. The third chapter is a "merging" of the first two, as Hal'ák reports. The "heart", as Rollig calls it because of its central placement in the exhibition, is the sculpture "Head in Tree," by the American artist Rona Pondick. There is a head in a leafless treetop. The idea for this work of art came to her after a spinal operation, as the artist reports.


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