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Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds Ocula Conversation Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds

Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...

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Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City Ocula Report Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City 15 Nov 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Under the artistic direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Ugo Rondinone

b. 1964, Switzerland

Swiss-born artist Ugo Rondinone is now based in New York. He rose to international acclaim in the early 1990s with highly varied work, the result of refusing to commit to any specific style. He produces paintings, drawings, sculpture (large and small), photography, video, and sound and installation art. He is also a poet, collector and curator.

Rondinone strives to make works that meditate on everyday life and the world and particularly reflect on the theme of time, blurring the distinction between the real and artificial. He avoids producing art that is densely intellectual. In a conversation with Ocula Magazine in 2014, Ugo Rondinone claims to work with ‘very basic raw symbols, something that everyone can relate to, from a child to an old person, from the East to the West.’ The emphasis is on creating engagement through experiencing the work first, rather than a conceptual understanding.

The rainbow is one of the most common motifs in Ugo Rondinone’s artwork. From 1997, he began producing lit signs composed of large words—simple poetic titles and phrases—supported high in the air and following the form and colours of the rainbow. At once beautiful and fantastical, the rainbow is also an easily understood LGBT symbol, signifying the freedom to love whom one wants. For Rondinone, this symbol is especially important; he is the longtime partner of famed New York writer, poet and performer, John Giorno.

Ugo Rondinone’s use of Day-Glo rainbow colours extends into many other works. One key sculptural motif involves stacking brightly coloured rocks, seen on its grandest scale with his Seven Magic Mountains work in Nevada (11 May 2016–2018). These towers of rough-cut boulders are painted in highly artificial Day-Glo rainbow hues, as well as in black, white and silver. In a press release for the installation, Rondinone stated that he sees this combination of artificial colour and natural rock formations as a continuum ‘between human and nature, artificial and natural, then and now.’

Not all of Rondinone’s art involves bright colour though. Another motif consists of simple primitive figures, composed of roughly hewn stone blocks evocative of Stonehenge. Another still is of mask-like sculptures inspired by indigenous Alaskan Yup’ik masks: aluminium casts made from clay moulds, painted in a single dull colour. Another, yet again in aluminium, is the cast of ghostly olive trees, coated in white enamel. 

Within the gallery context, Rondinone is most known for creating multimedia installations. He designs exhibitions that generate a holistic experience. Through meticulous planning—such as working with miniature models—he sets up relations between different works, enhancing them through the layout, colour scheme and architecture of the space itself. In these installations, he brings together different motifs developed over his career in varied configurations to generate different meanings. For example, Ugo Rondinone’s lacklustre clown, which appears passively in live-action, video and life-size sculptures, might sit amid his hypnotic, blurred target paintings, floating mandalas or wall paintings made of brick planes coated in single, vivid, Day-Glo colours.

Straddling the divide between gallery and public art, Ugo Rondinone’s art has been exhibited at major art institutions in the United States, Europe and China as well as at the 56th Venice Biennale, at the same time producing large-scale works for exhibitions in public spaces. 

Biography by Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

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zweiteraprilzweitausendundsiebzehn by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinonezweiteraprilzweitausendundsiebzehn, 2017 Oil on burlap
341 x 401 cm
Esther Schipper
the polished by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinonethe polished, 2019 Bluestone, stainless steel
Esther Schipper
the cheery by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinonethe cheery, 2019 bluestone, stainless steel, concrete
186.1 x 44.5 x 44.5 cm
Sadie Coles HQ
neunundzwanzigsterjunizweitausendundfünfzehn by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinoneneunundzwanzigsterjunizweitausendundfünfzehn, 2015 Acrylic on canvas, plexiplaque with labeling
270 x 180 x 4.2 cm
Sadie Coles HQ
the supercell by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinonethe supercell, 2016 Bronze
13.5 x 25 cm
Kukje Gallery
the seaweed by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinonethe seaweed, 2016 Bronze
11 x 25.5 cm
Kukje Gallery
the wildfire by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinonethe wildfire, 2016 Bronze
13 x 30 cm
Kukje Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Ugo Rondinone, earthing at Kukje Gallery, Seoul
Closed
16 May–14 July 2019 Ugo Rondinone earthing Kukje Gallery, Seoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Flora + Fauna at Sadie Coles HQ, London
Closed
4–27 April 2019 Group Exhibition Flora + Fauna Sadie Coles HQ, Davies Street
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Nudes at Sadie Coles HQ, London
Closed
11 April–26 May 2018 Group Exhibition Nudes Sadie Coles HQ, Davies Street

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Ugo Rondinone Ocula Conversation Ugo Rondinone Artist, New York

Swiss-born artist Ugo Rondinone entered Shanghai’s Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) like a human prism, shattering the usual museum wall white into the full spectrum of visible color. His solo exhibition, Breathe, Walk, Die, includes concentric circles of blurred colors, plastic filters placed over the museum’s windows to colorize the light...

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In Related Press

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Send in the clowns: Ugo Rondinone at the Bass Related Press Send in the clowns: Ugo Rondinone at the Bass The Art Newspaper : 7 December 2017

Visitors to last year's edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach no doubt remember seeing Ugo Rondinone's Miami Mountain, the Swiss artist's permanent installation for the Bass. The piece, a 41ft totem made of neon limestone boulders, was installed in front of the museum in Collins Park. At the time, the Bass was closed for a $12m renovation to restore...

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Miami Beach’s Bass Museum Cranks It Up After Renovation Related Press Miami Beach’s Bass Museum Cranks It Up After Renovation Hyperallergic : 10 November 2017

Throngs of excited visitors came out earlier this month to the newly reopened Bass Museum of Art on Miami Beach, a project nearly three years in the making. Families were everywhere, gleefully uncovering what the team at Bass had done after two years of construction and a year of planning and fundraising. Put simply, it was free and the halls were...

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Ugo Rondinone 'I ♥ John Giorno' at Various venues, New York Related Press Ugo Rondinone 'I ♥ John Giorno' at Various venues, New York Mousse Magazine : 27 July 2017

Ugo Rondinone: I ♥ John Giorno—the first major U.S. exhibition about the American poet, artist, activist and muse John Giorno—has opened simultaneously across 13 locations in New York City. I ♥ John Giorno is a work of art by Giorno's husband, the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. The exhibition is a celebration of the life and work of John...

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John Giorno Related Press John Giorno artforum.com : 25 July 2017

I learned early on from the eats, such as Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs—and the Pop artists too—that archives were very important. This was around the late 1950s, or the beginning of the '60s. So, I just saved all of my work. My parents had a house in Roslyn Heights, Long Island, and for fifty years I brought everything I made...

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