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Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber Ocula Report Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber 15 Mar 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...

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Diana Campbell Betancourt Ocula Conversation Diana Campbell Betancourt

Diana Campbell Betancourt is a curator working predominantly across South and Southeast Asia. Since 2013 she has been the founding artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a transnational art event that has grown in size and scale ever since its first edition in 2012. Backed by...

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Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art Ocula Report Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art 7 Mar 2019 : Mike Pinnington for Ocula

China, home to 802 million internet users, is subject to sophisticated online censorship. This shrouded state of affairs, unsurprisingly perhaps, serves to reinforce stereotypes around conformity elsewhere. Any realm, digital or otherwise, subject to such strict scrutiny must necessarily be bland and uncritical, right? I was mulling over such...

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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, 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 Rondinone’s work. 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

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 his work 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, his 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, Rondinone has 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. 

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

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blue red yellow mountain by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork Ugo Rondinoneblue red yellow mountain, 2019 Painted stone, stainless steel, pedestal
206 x 45 x 45 cm
Esther Schipper
yellow green pink blue mountain by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork Ugo Rondinoneyellow green pink blue mountain, 2018 Painted stone, stainless steel
Esther Schipper
the sun by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork Ugo Rondinonethe sun, 2017 Gilded bronze
Kukje Gallery
blue white red clock by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork Ugo Rondinoneblue white red clock, 2016 Stained-glass window, wire
60 x 60 cm
Esther Schipper
blue yellow pink mountain by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork Ugo Rondinoneblue yellow pink mountain, 2017 Painted stone, stainless steel, pedestal
180 x 38.1 x 33 cm
Esther Schipper
the deserted by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork Ugo Rondinonethe deserted, 2018 Acrylic on wood, Plexiglas
200 x 115 x 5 cm
Esther Schipper
ersterseptemberzweitausendundzehn by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork Ugo Rondinoneersterseptemberzweitausendundzehn, 2010 Acrylic on canvas and Plexiglas plaque with caption
270 x 270 cm
Esther Schipper
the silent by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork Ugo Rondinonethe silent, 2018 Acrylic on wood, Plexiglas
200 x 113 x 5 cm
Esther Schipper

Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Ugo Rondinone, Ugo Rondinone at Kukje Gallery, Seoul
16 May–30 June 2019 Ugo Rondinone Ugo Rondinone Kukje Gallery, Seoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Nudes at Sadie Coles HQ, London
11 April–26 May 2018 Group Exhibition Nudes Sadie Coles HQ, Davies Street
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Show, The Queen Falls. at Galería OMR, Mexico City
7 February–25 March 2017 Group Show The Queen Falls. Galería OMR, Mexico City

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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