Sadie Coles HQ is currently presenting a vibrantly colorful exhibition, clouds + mountains + waterfalls, by Swiss born artist Ugo Rondinone, an artist already recognized by his idiosyncratic and often whimsical works in a wide range of media. Rondinone, whose oeuvre has been subject to numerous exhibitions and national museum shows globally since the mid ‘80s, here presents three independent yet narrative-driven and interconnected series of pieces, following the artist’s signature bright color palette and fascination with natural landscapes and materials.
Mountain sculptures, composed of rocks vertically piled on pedestals, challenge the natural forms they draw from, not only with their beaming pristine colors, which imbue briskness to otherwise feeble rocks, but also with their bizarre compositions, which seem to playfully mock gravity. These rock sculptures, in elegant forms, blend the rawness of nature and the intruding hand of the mankind as their rough surfaces are highlighted by their bright colors. In relation to the New York based artist’s previous works – most recently Human Nature, his 2013 Public Art Fund project at Rockefeller Plaza which included nine primitively formed immense human figures made out of stone, these variously shaped sculptures question distinctions between figuration and abstraction or organic versus artificial.
Another component of environmental examination in the exhibition landscape is clouds, a series of oil on canvas pieces strongly tied to sculpture through its complication of traditional connotations of canvas as a surface. Structuring them akin to traditional four-cornered canvases at bottom parts, Rondinone finishes his canvases with cloud-like top sections, moving away from the straight-cut elements of the traditional painted medium while still referencing a deep series of ties to both nature and art history. With this departure, the status of the canvas as an object rather than a subject moves towards a sculptural realm.
Rondinone eventually “sculpts” what he aims to depict through painting, drawing faint resemblances of his paintings to clouds to cement this duality, as the puffy forms he creates at the top of his canvases deliver his message of cloudy skies far better than his original intention of painting them. Giving the impression that they are cut out from one big picture, these hybrid forms perpetuate curiosity and buoyancy, stemming from such a vaguely referenced, but clearly intended image of a blue sky.
Ugo Rondinone: clouds + mountains + waterfalls is on view at Sadie Coles HQ through October 24, 2015.
— O.C. Yerebakan
Sadie Coles HQ [Exhibition Page]