ParisUgo Rondinone: a wall . seven windows . four people . three trees . some clouds . one sun . In memory of John Giorno. The love of my life. Ugo
Unify the extremes and you
will have the true middle.
— Friedrich Schlegel, Ideas
A wall. Seven windows. Four people. Three trees. Some clouds. And one sun, take over three places comprising spaces of complementary dimensions and configurations, some adjacent, others overlaid. Here and there contents and containers form a whole, signalling in the same way as Ugo Rondinone’s previous exhibitions issues as dialectical and mnemonic as they are intertextual: objects and architectural components, solids and voids colliding with situations and contexts governed by a principle of instability. Near and distant. Opaque and transparent. Front and back. Top and bottom. Optic and haptic. There can be no equating – much less combining – Rondinone’s works with any single state that would exhaust their potential. What is to be said of this wall summoning us to penetration of space? A wall all the more singular in that it conceals nothing apart from its own obverse and structure. What is to be said of these darkly reflective windows that we can’t see through, but which actually intensify our scopic urge? Of these archaic figures stripped of any distinctive features, of these clouds hanging from the wall, as fragile and massive as the three trees? Of this golden hoop? What do these components mean? What are their ties that bind? Are they the pieces of a puzzle we’re being invited to put together? Are they part of the same time frame? And so do they take effect at midday as the title of the hoop (the sun at 12 am) specifies? Are they a reminder of 28 August 2019 (achtundzwanzigsteraugustzweitausendneunzehn) and its association with the wall, or are they the product of a collision whose before and after, and here and now, are kept in (dis)equilibrium, a little like these interiors in their incessant interaction with exteriors? Interior(s) and exteriors(s). The window series sets us at the heart of this contradiction. Their titles, borrowed from pictures by Caspar David Friedrich, recall Rondinone’s interest in the Romantic heritage. The Romantics skilled at thinking in fragments, at setting up dichotomies and discrepancies, paradoxes and aporias as driving forces for a creative process never deadlocked, always becoming. On the verge of breaking apart. Aufgelöst. Rondinone’s oeuvre exists under the sign of a perpetual becoming, with the artist working with media, themes, forms, objects, genres and data that he rearranges, trans- and permutes, subjects to infinite variations that generate ruptures, breakthroughs and advances, but also reversals, repetitions and re-evaluations. As if in their instability the works have to submit to this whirlpool dynamic. To this toing and froing between times and spaces. Times through spaces. And vice versa. In their capacity to reify incessantly these collisions and transitions, the works then function as organisms – shifting according to their animating time frames and frozen in their materiality – which are the source of the transformations. In which things take shape. The clouds and trees are revelatory of these moments. Moments of condensation, to borrow a term dear to the artist. Time has not been stopped here, but exhibited. Like the growth of the trees and the movement of the clouds. They are there to signify what they were. And what, via the morphogeneses Rondinone will not fail to subject them to, they will become. As Bob Nickas has observed elsewhere, gallery spaces form a stage given to summoning continually revivified things and characters. A stage offered to a spectator’s gaze, memory and forgetting. A stage served here by three places. Sheltered by a wall. Seven windows. Four people. Three trees. Some clouds. And one sun.
— Erik Verhagen
Ugo Rondinone was born in 1964 in Brunnen, Switzerland and currently lives and works in New York.
Rondinone has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at institutions including: Kunsthalle Helsinki, Finland; Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York; Fundación Casa Wabi, Puerto Escondido, Mexico; Arken Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, Denmark; Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Place Vendôme, Paris; MACRO and Mercati di Traiano, Rome; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Carré d’Art, Nîmes, France; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museum Anahuacalli, Mexico City; Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai; M Museum, Leuven, Belgium; Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens; Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna; and Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium.
In 2016, Rondinone’s large-scale public work seven magic mountains opened outside Las Vegas, co-produced by the Art Production Fund and Nevada Museum of Art. The following year, Rondinone curated a city-wide exhibition, “Ugo Rondinone: I ♥ John Giorno,” which was presented at Artists Space, High Line Art, Howl! Happening, Hunter College Art Galleries, the Kitchen, New Museum, Red Bull Arts New York, Rubin Museum of Art, SkyArt, Swiss Institute,White Columns and 80WSE Gallery, all in New York.
Photo. Archives kamel mennour © Ugo Rondinone. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris/London