Almine Rech Gallery Paris is currently hosting its 7th installation of work by the Swiss-born Ugo Rondinone, exploring the interplay of time and creative practice on the artist. Titled Pure Moonlight, the show consists of a series of Rondinone’s concentric “date paintings,” as well another set of small-scale candle sculptures.
Upon entering the gallery space, visitors are confronted with a stark, white environment. The windows have been completely covered, and the room is awash in a cold, sterile light. The walls are covered with Rondinone’s signature, circular “date paintings” paintings, blurred around the edges to create a constant illusion of poor focus. The overall effect is alienating, transforming the gallery itself into an active force on the viewer’s perceptions.
Taking cues from Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara, Rondinone’s “date paintings” seek to define the work by its location on the linear timeline of his own life, marking the phase of the moon and the specific date of the work for each piece. Varying the width and number of rings in each work, the artist takes a more figurative bent on Kawara’s relentless practice of painting the actual calendar date, representing instead the moon itself, an allegory on the passing of each day, and the cyclical nature of the moon phases themselves. The works themselves, as previously mentioned, are each painting in a hazy, blurred fashion, subverting the viewer’s gaze and perception of depth and distance while one tries to engage with the set of rings.
Complementing these paintings is a series of small candle sculptures, dotting the floor of the installation space. Painted to mimic the gradual melting and pooling of wax as the candle burns down its wick, the piece creates an illusion of stillness, capturing the effects of durational action in a single moment. Entering into conversation with the pieces on the wall, Rondinone’s sculptures create an effect of still time, moments of creative impulse applied to the distillation and documentation of fixed moments. Pure Moonlight turns the gallery into a space of frozen gesture, grasping onto ephemeral processes as a way to document each viewer’s separate perceptions of time.
Perhaps this is the most intriguing part of Rondinone’s approach; by eliminating external time (that outside the gallery, eliminated through closing off the space from outside light), and presenting the viewer with only his own representations of it, he creates a singular moment of perception, each viewer united by the concrete representations of date and duration on view. Pulling the viewer as far as he can from their own subjective experience, Rondinone welcomes a new perception of time, defined by its non-presence.
Pure Moonlight is on view until April 12th.
Exhibition Site [Almine Rech]