Currently on view at Gladstone Gallery, artist Ugo Rondinone has opened a show work that spans a broad range of his creative output over several years. Mixing together his practice in installation, sculpture, drawing and performance, the show sees Rondinone reanimating commonplace objects—such as tree branches or window frames—in his signature approach towards the Neo-Romantic.
Developed throughout his practice, these large-scale landscape drawings, window, and sun sculptures speak directly to Rondinone’s continued exploration of German Romanticism and its key artistic figure, Caspar David Friedrich. Moving through various versions and techniques in the rendering of his work, Rondinone’s pieces in the show use a minimal number of symbols and scenes to cast a unique interpretation of the natural world, both from an embedded perspective and that of a spectator.
Aesthetic and philosophical tensions are central to Rondinone’s work: nature and humanity, exteriors and inner lives, expansion and intimacy, organic and artificial, elements are always in a state of juxtaposition and counterpoint, allowed to converse through material and image to expand on the viewer’s experience of both the work, the artist, and the world that produces them in tandem. Rondinone, placing his hand at the center of this exchange, allows his work, like his massive golden arcs composed from cast tree branches and sticks, to present a situation in which the natural world is both an object of desire, as well as one of constant mutation. Rondinone stylizes these dichotomies into new physical and temporal sites of self-reflection and universal connection.
Similarly, Rondinone’s sepia drawings of wooded landscapes, long a foundational part of his oeuvre, seem to manifest so much of his other aesthetic interests in massive scale. Knotted trees, twisting branches, and overabundant foliage are at the core of the work, recalling the concept of the draughtsman as a vessel for the experience of a boundless, ever-flowing nature. However, Rondinone’s work, composed from a range of images stitched together, instead poses these scenes as impossibly complex, built from a series of images to create a nature far more elusively complex than possible outside the frame.
By contrast, the artist’s windowframe sculptures, on view as the third part of the show, do little to present an outside world, instead posing exteriors as an impossible symbol, a closed-off state limited by the industrial materiality of the work itself. Almost a correlating riddle to the rest of the works on view, Rondinone seems to constantly ask the question of just how humanity might be able to truly experience, or even appreciate, the world as it is in 2018.
The artist’s work is on view through October 27th.
— D. Creahan
Ugo Rondinone: drifting clouds [Exhibition Site]