Over the past twenty years, this multimedia Swiss artist has been exploring the figure of the contemporary artist and his relation to the world, but also the relation between the viewer and the artwork, whether the work induces a contemplation, reverie, or meditation.
Constantly moving between the private and the public domain, this opus by Ugo Rondinone reveals the artist’s oscillation between his intimately personal work and the moment when his practice is offered to the appreciation of the public. The iconic “horizon paintings” presented here have not been the subject of a solo show since 1997. They are nevertheless part of a major ongoing project that belongs to the corpus of his “date paintings”. Whether depicting landscapes, mandalas, horizons, windows, stars or brick walls, these paintings, that are neither quite identical nor quite different, are all dated like the pages of a diary, and will terminate with the artist’s life.
“The date paintings began with the landscapes I was doing in the style of 18th-century drawings (…) Language is excluded from them, as is everyday life”. To describe the exhibition, Ugo Rondinone draws on some famous descriptions of solitude in literature. He notably evokes Oblomov, the eponymous hero of Ivan Goncharov’s novel, whose divan becomes the epicentre of his existence, or the intellectual and domestic exile of Paul Valéry’s Monsieur Teste, as well as, of course, such classics as Rousseau’s Reveries of a Solitary Walker and Huysmans’ Against Nature, the starting point of his wanderings. “When I started work on these date paintings, it was out of necessity. I wanted to do something based on my own life, with the least possible social pressure. I work on them so as to isolate myself, as if I were in the woods. It’s an inner monologue, something automatic which prevents me from thinking.”
Next to this, Rondinone will present a series in watercolours of these “horizons”, small intimate pastels summoning a hazy and uncertain future, the very opposite of his brightly coloured paintings, sure of themselves, stretched on fibreglass, and whose rounded edges evoke surfboards. Never before shown outside the studio, biding their time, these preparatory works are not intended for commercialization and will remain the property of the artist. “You can’t let go of everything, some works have to remain private”.
Ugo Rondinone was born in 1964 in Brunnen, Switzerland. He lives and works in New York. His work has been shown in numerous exhibition centres throughout the world, such as Le Consortium in Dijon in 1997, Kunstverein in Stuttgart in 2002, or the Pompidou Centre in 2003. He represented Switzerland at the 52nd Venice Biennale and curated the exhibition The Third Mind at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2007. More recently, his work has been displayed at Kunsthaus Aurgauer in Switzerland in 2010, and at MUSAC in León, Spain in 2011.
(Image at top: Ugo Rondinone, FUENFZEHNTERJUNIZWEITAUSENDUNDELF, 2011 Acrylic on glass reinforced plastic, plexiglass plaque with caption, 200 x 500 x 4 cm; Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech Gallery)