It’s been a long time since a work of art has lodged in my thoughts as securely as this sculpture carved from a tree born in the time and place of Napoleon. And I’ve only seen photographs of Guiseppe Penone‘s Cedro di Versailles, or Versailles Cedar, a daunting carving that reveals the sapling the tree once was. Owned by a private collector, the sculpture is no longer on public display after a lengthy stay at the Art Gallery of Ontario. So I’m left to imagine the sensory wonder of standing in its presence, feeling its grain, and smelling its essence. Still, the images are enough to evoke a longing to see who I once was, to reacquaint myself with the spindly sapling that other photos claim was me. Penone’s meticulous and loving excavation persuades me that my predecessor hasn’t vanished entirely into time. I just need to look deep for him, through the tangle of roots, past the many rings, and along the gnarled branches of six decades lived. Awaiting is what Penone wants his artwork to reveal: the hidden life within.