Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce THREE LIGHTNINGS. EIGHT CLOUDS. ONE THUNDER. FEW BOATS., an exhibition by Ugo Rondinone. For this show, the artist presents new, large-scale sculptures along with interconnected bodies of work, each of which acts as building blocks of the perfect storm. In the center of the exhibition are three massive lightning strikes that forcefully punctuate the space. Painted in bright, dayglo yellow, the bronze light sculptures depict the crooked and rhythmic lines that form strikes of lightning, creating tangible and static representations of these miraculous experiences and awe-inspiring phenomena. On the borders of the exhibition hang cloud reliefs created with sand, gravel, and concrete. Forming the horizon line within the exhibition space, these materially dense, whimsical shapes reinterpret the organic folds and dimensions of clouds. Using heavy elements borne directly from the earth, Rondinone suggests the interconnectedness of the materials that comprises both land and sky. Spontaneously positioned around the gallery are black-painted sailboats made of driftwood that have gotten caught in the midst of this powerful storm. As the viewer moves around each work, each form continually changes based on the viewer’s vantage point. Connected here with the lightning strikes and clouds, Rondinone freezes an inexplicable moment in time that captures the excitement, fear, and impending change brought on by environmental happenings, seemingly out of our control.
Often employing natural forms and materials in his work, Rondinone’s examination of nature through painting, drawing, and sculpture alludes to deep, conceptual conversations surrounding the ways in which humans connect to their environments and the elements that comprise them. Lightning bolts, which we ordinarily experience as flashes of light in a storm, also connect to Rondinone’s interest in the earthly realm and the sublime, as seen in German Romanticism and the works of Caspar David Friedrich, whom he has often made references to in his practice. Lightning forms a bridge between the earthly realm and the divine, suggesting the possibility of transcending the physical world and everyday life. Rondinone's light sculptures further recall other natural forms in our everyday life, including inverted branches or the roots of a tree. As such, Rondinone places the quotidian as nothing short of extraordinary. As with the artist’s colored mountain and nuns + monks sculptures, which similarly feature natural forms painted in bright neon colors, the vivid, artificial coloration of these works creates a stunning contrast and serves to evoke an altogether contemporary version of the sublime. Each composition emphasizes temporality and the fleeting passage of time, while simultaneously complicating our conceptions of impermanence and materiality.
Concurrent to the presentation at Gladstone, Rondinone will have two exhibitions in New York at Journal Gallery (September 8 – September 21, 2023) and Martos Gallery (September 14 – October 21, 2023).
Ugo Rondinone (b. 1964, Brunnen, Switzerland) studied at the Universität fur Angewandte Kunst in Vienna before moving to New York in 1997 where he currently lives and works. His work has been the subject of solo presentations at the Centre George Pompidou, Paris (2003); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2006); Art Institute of Chicago (2013); Rockbund Art Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2016), MACRO, Rome (2016); Carre D’Art, Nimes (2016); Berkeley Art Museum (2017); Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2017); Bass Museum of Art, Miami (2017); Belvedere, Vienna (2021); Tamayo Museum, Mexico City (2022); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2022); Petit Palais, Paris (2022); Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista di Venezia, Venice (2022); The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva (2023); Gladstone Gallery, Brussels (2023); Parrish Museum, New York (2023); Städel Museum (2023); Storm King Art Center, New York (2023). In November, he will have a solo exhibitions at Fosun Foundation in Shanghai and a special installation at Phillips Collection, Washington.