Ugo Rondinone


Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone (b. 1964) works in a diverse range of mediums including painting, sculpture, video, photography and installation. With his blend of cross-references, icons, signs and elusive traces and his mixture of attraction and repulsion, excitement and boredom, clarity and confusion, intensity, emptiness, laughter and melancholy, Ugo Rondinone's work is in a constant exploration of different media, themes and stylistic expressions. His work is playful and can not be fixed within a specific description. Fiction, everyday life and effect are intimately linked in a discourse which bonds art and life, aesthetics and mental experience, in a personal and linguistic productive vision.
 
Working across different media and styles, Rondinone takes references literature, music and theatre as well as the visual arts, creating sensory and theatrical installations combining photography, video, painting, drawing, sculpture and sound. In "I Don't Live Here Anymore", he digitally attaches images of his own head to fashion models' bodies. Positioning this altered self-portrait within the invented world of fashion glossies, he deconstructs high-style clothing, cosmetics, and attitudes. He tests his own body and appearance, and he raises the issue of reality. The artist can only offer his own, man made version. With his blend icons, signs and elusive traces, and his mixture of attraction and repulsion, excitement and boredom, clarity and confusion, intensity, emptiness, laughter and melancholy, Ugo Rondinone's work is suspended in non-time and non-space where reality, fiction, possibility and effect are intimately linked in a discourse which bonds art and life, aesthetics and mental experience, in an extremely personal and poetically productive vision.
Like the great Alberto Giacometti, a sculptor of sombre aesthetic scruples, Ugo Rondinone was born in Switzerland to Italian parents. He later studied at Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna.
A multimedia artist, Rondinone often joins forces with other artists like Urs Fischer in collaborative installations.
Rondinone’s wide-ranging interests and idiosyncratic style suggests a person tunnelling into his own psyche. His audacious choice of literary antecedents seems a good way of trying to get to grips with the nature of that psychosphere. He draws inspiration from not-so-well-known yet brilliant writers, such as New York performance poet John Giorno (star of Andy Warhol’s 1963 film Sleep) and Edmond Jabès, a writer known for his meditations on exile in the desert of language (the title for Rondinone’s project, Clockwork for oracle, was taken from one of his poems). However, the novel that most influenced him was Joris Karl Huysmans’ Against nature; Rondinone has said that the way in which the protagonist builds his own world in a castle, without any outside contact, is very much the way he sees artists.
Controlling every aspect of a space, and all the corresponding and contrasting elements – such as clowns, mirrors, targets and windows – Rondinone often transforms art sites into just such a self-contained world. Life is undecipherable and repetitive, controlled by time and order, while emotions are pesky and chaos stirs.
Like his compatriot Giacometti, Rondinone knows the paradoxical rules of a game where the closer you get to the truth, the further you are away, or the more conscious you are of your distance. The payoff: a feeling of potent compassion and the startling thrill of art, as a place where detached contemplation can yield some access to life’s engulfing mysteries.
For Ugo Rondinone, the architecture is always a framework and a stimulus. Whether it was the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in South Melbourne, known as the ‘urban Uluru’, or Sydney Harbour’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Rondinone contributed amazing works for each of the two venues. Both exhibitions were realised as Kaldor projects in a partnership with Naomi Milgrom Kaldor.



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