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May 01 2013

Ugo Rondinone: Human Nature / Rockefeller Plaza, New York City

Human Nature by Swiss-born, New York-based artist Ugo Rondinone is a public art exhibition at the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan that was unveiled by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg last week. Human Nature consists of nine huge stone figures that are standing like ancient sentries along the full length of Rockefeller Plaza. The figures were assembled at Rockefeller Center over the course of several days. They range in height from 16 to 20 feet and weigh up to 30,000 pounds each. To created the figures, Ugo Rondinone used massive bluestone slabs. The stones were rough-cut into blocks and stacked on top of each other. The installation recalls a modern Stonehenge.

Ugo Rondinone was born in Brunnen, Switzerland, in 1962. He was master student under Ernst Caramelle at the Hochschule für angewandte Kunst (University of Applied Arts) in Vienna from 1985 until 1990. Since the late 1990s he lives in New York. Since 1985 Ugo Rondinone’s work has been included in numerous international solo and group exhibitions.

The new Public Art Fund exhibition opened on April 23 and is on view until June 7, 2013.

Ugo Rondinone: Human Nature. Rockefeller Plaza, New York City, April 22, 2013. Video by Shimon Azulay.

PS: More videos on Ugo Rondinone:

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:

ugo-rondinone-042213

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September 05 2011

Ugo Rondinone: Kiss Now Kill Later / Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich

Galerie Eva Presenhuber opens the fall season with a solo show by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Last year, Rondinone had a comprehensive solo exhibition at Aargauer Kunsthaus. Galerie Eva Presenhuber presents three work groups: a series of bird figures, six huge ink paintings, and a group of text related works on scrap wood. In addition to these works, there’s also a clock made from stained glass with no fingers. It is cast into an outer wall of the gallery space and thus illuminated by daylight.

More information and a photo set are available after the jump. The exhibition runs until October 29, 2011.

Ugo Rondinone: Kiss Now Kill Later. Opening reception at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich / Switzerland, September 1, 2011.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

Excerpt from the press release:

The exhibition is designed in sequences: in each of the exhibition rooms, which are painted grey, three work groups are displayed, and recent works are combined with existing series. Amid these three work groups, one diminutive piece makes a distinctive appearance: a clock made from stained glass with no fingers, which is cast into the wall and is thus illuminated by daylight.

In the first room, we have a new body of work on display: a series of bird figures. A total of thirty bird sculptures have been installed across the whole of the exhibition space, as if in a flock. Created in various sizes, they are moulded in various positions and are all facing different directions. For the most part, these delicate sculptures do not exceed five inches in height and their characteristic claws, beaks and tails, though meticulously crafted, still manage to give of an air of casualness. Their appearance is that of birds, but their character is not. The titles of the bird sculptures refer to natural phenomena. In this way, they represent the natural world outside the artistic space. Their presentation within the group conveys the idea that those non-descript birds stand for more important events. The sculpture surface is covered with dense networks of fingerprints, which form stylised reliefs and mean that the work is forged entirely in the artist’s distinctive style, thus breaking the connection to real birds. The artist has borrowed this surface texture from his masks series. Like with these masks, the actual process of modelling the clay is visible since the artist’s fingerprints, created when moulding the clay, remain on the material after casting. In this way, the creation process is caught in time and is preserved in the finished sculpture. This moment is further emphasised by the materiality of these gracefully-formed figures: cast in bronze and installed on the floor, the creatures have been deprived of their most important feature: the ability to fly. This is compounded further through the artist’s choice of bronze as his work material. Its colour, too, is similar to the colour of the clay, something which that the artist considered as important in his choice of materials. The fact that the bronze was left raw and that the birds differ only in their finish, and not in the colouring of their would-be plumage, affirms this impression even more.

In the second exhibition room, six ten-foot by thirteen-foot ink paintings are hung on the walls. They feature Arcadian landscapes and forest paintings on large paper that has been stretched on canvas and mounted in a frame. They show drawings that are traditionally made in a sketchbook, with motifs reminiscent of the intimacy of 18th century cabinet pieces. Here, they are reproduced on a large scale, developed using a slide projector to enlarge miniatures. This is meant to allow the spectator to establish a direct physical relationship with them while at the same time empathising with their content. The large format has the effect of opening the spectator’s perspective on untouched landscapes and reflects an unaffected approach to idyl and nativeness. Their size means that they simulate the immediacy of a real experience for the spectator. The appearance of the ink drawings refers to the art form of calligraphy. This is because the artist is, in fact, working with a Chinese brush. The calligraphy symbols represent the movement of the artist’s hands and are comparable to the fingerprints on the bird sculptures.

The artist has been creating these monochromatic ink landscapes since the early 1990s. The collection is an as yet unfinished series that Rondinone has diligently worked on since his first solo exhibition, with Eva Presenhuber in Galerie Walcheturm in 1991. However, the most recent exhibition of these landscape drawings was held in 2002 at Sadie Coles HQ, London. There was therefore a strong desire for access to be granted to the public for this important body of work; one which the artist has previously described as the basis of all of his work, including his new drawings from 2011. When asked about his muse, Ugo Rondinone refers significantly to ‘Early Morning’, a small watercolour painting, measuring 7 x 9 inches and depicting a forest landscape in sepia, created by English artist Samuel Palmer in the year 1825. This is how the artist accounts for his choice: “A work of great spiritual power, it achieves and articulates a unique fusion of language, perception and visions. Its delicate touch plays on the texture richness that we find between the folds of very modest episodes, evoking a frisson of deep recognition, a sense of primal encounter with the brilliant, elusive world of senses. There is a striking freedom of style here, which allows the artist to move without any sense of strain or loss of balance from the visionary and ecstatic to the exquisitely precise. ‘Early Morning’ is an elegiac meditation on love, loss and the spiritual beauty of nature.” (in: domus 942, December 2010, p. 111)


May 21 2010

Ugo Rondinone: The Night of Lead at Aargauer Kunsthaus

The Aargauer Kunsthaus is presenting the most comprehensive solo exhibition to date of internationally renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Completely taking over the exhibition space with his works, Ugo Rondinone transforms individual galleries into atmospheric stage sets and seductive universes.

The New York-based artist works in a variety of media and art forms. From sculpture and painting to installation. At the Aargauer Kunsthaus he is not showing his work isolated from one another, but as atmospheric stages sets. The title of the Ugo Rondinone’s solo show is derived from Hans Henny Jahnn’s Die Nacht aus Blei (The Night of Lead). Jahnn’s novel served as a source of inspiration for the exhibition.

Ugo Rondinone was born in Brunnen, Switzerland, in 1962. He was master student under Ernst Caramelle at the Hochschule für angewandte Kunst (University of Applied Arts) in Vienna from 1985 until 1990. Since the late 1990s he lives in New York. Since 1985 Ugo Rondinone’s work has been included in numerous international solo and group exhibitions.

Ugo Rondinone: The Night of Lead at Aargauer Kunsthaus. Opening reception, May 12, 2010.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

Press Release:
Both nationally and internationally, Ugo Rondinone (b.1964) is one of the most noted contemporary Swiss artists. But whereas renowned institutions around the globe regularly devote major exhibitions to his work, Rondinone’s last solo show in this country dates back eleven years. The 2010 exhibition “Ugo Rondinone – The Night of Lead” finally ends this long hiatus, with the Aargauer Kunsthaus serving as the venue for a comprehensive solo exhibition that includes large-scale sculptural works and paintings as well as audio and video pieces. In addition to a large selection of works from recent years a number of new works and site-specific installations created specifically for the Aargauer Kunsthaus will be on view.

The New York-based artist works in a variety of media and art forms – sculpture, painting, sound installation and installation art, collage –, with his entire output being suffused by a sense of poetry. His exhibition at the Aargauer Kunsthaus revolves around a reflection on spatial aspects and the relationship to transience and time. Instead of showing his varied works isolated from one another, Rondinone presents them as three-dimensional “total images,” as atmospheric stage sets or seductive dreamscapes in which anything seems possible.

The eponymous novel referenced by the exhibition title, Hans Henny Jahnn’s Die Nacht aus Blei (The Night of Lead), served as a source of inspiration for the exhibition. The novel relates how a man, while roaming around a city during a “leaden” winter night, encounters his own younger self. In the narrative, psychological and metaphysical dimensions overlap and the distinction between past and present is erased. Taking their cue from the story, Ugo Rondinone’s powerful installations oscillate between dreamlike landscapes and stage-like settings. In keeping with the duality of day and night, the exhibition sprawls across two floors of the museum, with exclusively black works such as the twelve-part mask series MOONRISE (2004), the minimalist X sculpture Lessness (2003) or one of Rondinone’s psychologically haunting, ambient sound installations being shown on the basement level.

In the spacious galleries on the ground floor the artist presents carefully staged settings of larger than life-sized sculptures, such as mock-ups of an ancient olive tree or of a fireplace with mantle, as well as large-scale paintings. Providing a stark contrast are small-scale works of extreme fragility such as casts of tangerines, delicate diary drawings or poems written on the museum wall. A central theme of the entire exhibition is the juxtaposition of the spiritual and the poetic with the banal and the everyday. The exhibition The Night of Lead brings together more than sixty works.

Not contenting himself with completely taking over the galleries, Ugo Rondinone, moreover, stages an artistic intervention in the very architecture of the Aargauer Kunsthaus with a large-scale façade work, thus turning the museum as a whole into his “medium.” The museum’s glass is painted over with a white brick structure, literally “walling up” the museum. This gesture is typical of the artist, as he recurrently seeks to establish a boundary between his work and the outside world and to distance it from the everyday, creating a shelter for art. The exhibition was organised in conjunction with the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León in Spain.

Ugo Rondinone, born in Brunnen, Switzerland, in 1962, was a master student under Ernst Caramelle at the Hochschule für angewandte Kunst (University of Applied Arts) in Vienna from 1985 until 1990. Since the late 1990s he lives in New York. Since 1985 Ugo Rondinone’s work has been included in numerous international solo and group exhibitions, including at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y Léon, Léon (2009); Sculpture Center, New York (2008); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2008); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2007); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg (2007); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2006); Witte de With – Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2005), Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2004); Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, Ottawa (2004); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2003); Museum für neue Kunst/ZKM, Karlsruhe (2002); Swiss Institute, New York (2002); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2002); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2002); Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2001); P.S.1. Contemporary Art Center, New York (2000); Kunsthaus Glarus (1999). In 1996 Ugo Rondinone represented the Swiss Confederation at the São Paolo Biennial. As part of the 52nd Biennale of Venice in 2007 he presented (with Urs Fischer) an extraordinary installation at the church of San Stae. Ugo Rondinone has received numerous awards for his artistic work.


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