Detail, nude (xxx), 2010. All images courtesy Gladstone Gallery.
Currently on view at Gladstone Gallery is nude, an exhibition of cast wax sculptures by Ugo Rondinone. The seven life-size figures, which occupy the gallery in various moments of repose, are made from a mixture of wax and earth pigments. Rondinone’s work has been described as perverse and grotesque to pretty and breathlessly romantic; this exhibition seems to fit into the final category, reflecting on poignant expressions of the human condition.
More text and images after the jump…
In contrast to the artist’s splashier works with neons and clowns, nude offers visitors a “hermetic contemplation that gives way to a site of serenity,” according to the press release. The exhibition title is a play on bareness or nakedness, as well as a quality of exposure and reduction. In all their bareness, the figures seem dressed in their own segmented skins. With no signs of adornment, they are stripped of personal narratives, and Rondinone’s attention to human gesture shifts the viewer’s experience from wondering about their specific human identities to a referential, even sympathetic, reflection.
The installation accentuates the vastness of the gallery’s architecture, and Rondinone’s figures highlight their passivity in regard to the spatial void at the core of this scenario. In this staging, the artist plays with forces of artifice and authenticity. Critic Roberta Smith dubs Rondinone “a conjurer of mood,” an artist who “skillfully blends wisps of high and low culture, emotion and nostalgia into a surprising visual seductiveness.” Poet and critic Barry Schwabsky suggests that Rondinone cultivates mood for its own sake, and describes his style as compartmentalizing, an “analytical approach to dreaminess” and “above all, a sort of nostalgia for alienation.”
New Yorkers may best remember Rondinone for his sculpture “Hell Yes!” that until recently has graced the facade of the New Museum—replaced by German artist Isa Genzken‘s Rose II. Born in Switzerland in 1964, the artist has spent the last twenty years working in a diverse range of mediums, including painting, drawing, photography, video, installation, and sculpture. Recent solo exhibitions include the Louvre, ICA Boston, and SculptureCenter (with Scottish artist Martin Boyce). Rondinone currently lives and works in New York.
– J. Lindblad
Ugo Rondinone, nude [Gladstone Gallery site & Press Release]
Review: Ugo Rondinone [Frieze]
Review: Ugo Rondinone in New York [Artforum]
Ugo Rondinone and Martin Boyce, We Burn, We Shiver. (video interview) [SculptureCenter]