Ugo Rondinone
Switzerland, 1964
Ugo Rondinone (Brunnen, Switzerland, 1963) was born to an Italian family and studied at the Höchschule für angewandte Kunst in Vienna with artist Ernst Caramelle between 1985 and 1990, before moving to New York in the late nineties. In 2007 he represented his country at the Biennale di Venezia and in 2013 he presented a public work at the Rockefeller Plaza in New York: Human Nature, an installation made up of nine colossal figures carved out of stone from a quarry in north Pennsylvania. This multidisciplinary artist has had an intense international career in sculpture, photography, video, painting, drawing and sound, in particular by creating surprising sensory environments where spectators can undergo a synesthetic experience. In Rondinone’s work, the poetic and the spiritual confront the everyday, familiar and even banal, as in the case of a simple light bulb, a piece of fruit or a tree. Be they trees, stars or clowns, his symbols are universal and familiar; anyone can identify with them and feel a connection. In his own words, “the work grows in personal and emotional realism” and spectators should try to feel it rather than understand it. Rondinone’s interest in trees dates back to 1997, when he took real-life apple trees, wrapped their trunks and branches in rubber and installed them in an exhibition space: Moonlight and Aspirin. Later he made a new group of trees out of semitransparent cast resin and Plexiglas base, such as Across Dark Stream of Shooting Stars in 2004. He finally applied this technique to the series of large olive trees in the south of Italy in cast aluminium and white enamel, Air Gets into Everything even Nothing in 2006-2009. Following his exhibition at the MUSAC in León in 2009, Madeleine Schuppli stressed the importance of trees in this artist’s work: “Ugo Rondinone’s sculpture represents the tree in a very archaic form. It occupies space like a powerful creature and emanates a weighty yet fragile presence. The presence of the tree has a highly self-evident nature, but the tree cannot “hide” the fact that it has been uprooted and is a therefore a stranger in the exhibition space.” For this artist, his trees are an artificial representation of nature and in a museum space their artificial nature is magnified. Although a tree always alludes to life and the passage of time as reflected in its rings, in his case they also become an illusion. Rondinone connects the effect of simplicity and purity, of starting from something basic and familiar, to his interest in Samuel Beckett’s writing: “I’m interested in his writing’s well-defined, precise structure. Nothing is accidental and he keeps the language to the bare essentials […] Many artists have been inspired by Beckett, from Duchamp to Jasper Johns. When you want to do something basic, you go back to Beckett.”
Glòria Picazo