Installation view, Ugo Rondinone, twelve sunsets, twenty nine dawns, all in one., Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Löwenbräu Areal, Zurich, 2008
Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to present new work series by Ugo Rondinone in a solo exhibition titled 'twelve sunsets, twenty nine dawns, all in one.'. Five years have passed since Rondinone’s last one-man show at Eva Presenhuber’s. In the meantime, the artist has created a lot of buzz. Unforgettable were his appearances with Urs Fischer in the church of San Stae during the 52nd Biennale in Venice and at THE THIRD MIND, a group show curated by the artist himself at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
At the center of Ugo Rondinone’s exhibition at Eva Presenhuber’s is a new motif: the Scholar Rocks. These are stones that natural erosion has riddled with holes, stones that in traditional China are admired and collected. They are used as ornaments in landscaped gardens or even arranged inside a study as a contemplative focus. This second function has given them a name with a whiff of quiet mysticism. Rondinone has assigned the Scholar Rocks a similar function to the casts he did of ancient olive trees, among other places, at last year’s installation in San Stae for the Venice Biennale. In correspondence, the Scholar Rocks are also cast: they originally stem from China's Tai Lake region and were scanned in and so enlarged in reproduction that they form an over-man-sized group. Covered with grey cement, these sculptures are not nature, but signs of a condensed temporality. They exceed human dimensions and allude to a yearning for spirituality.
In a contrapuntal relationship to this, so to speak, is the concept of a day’s work that has run through Ugo Rondinine’s oeuvre from the beginning: there are landscape pictures, circle and stripe paintings and, new, small sculptures which all stand for the time the artist spent on one activity on one specific day. As was the case with its predecessors, the new series, DIARY OF CLOUDS, assumes a structure that comes about without any intention, but is form for form’s sake. The small sculptures, originally worked in clay, indeed recall figures in the sky, but quite obviously do not depict anything concrete. Cast and produced within a wooden shelf, they are formulas for a self-referentiality that is in fact absolute.
A further work group is made up of paintings primed with gesso, hung in a horizontal line through all three exhibition spaces. They show markedly insignificant and eventless motifs such as house façades or interiors devoid of people. On its reverse side, each picture is collaged with a page from the New York Times that appeared on the day it was painted. Like the sculptures from the series the DIARY OF CLOUDS, the small paintings carry the date written out in the title.
As ever, Rondinone’s work is determined by a melancholic dispositive. This artistic cosmos that he has been constructing over nearly two decades is comparatively static. New signs of longing are added, but do not supersede the old and already existing ones. The fact that the Scholar Rocks (which have become the source material for his newest work group) have stood for years in the artist’s apartment, may be a revealing indication of the way he works, but any other meaning cannot be drawn: the artistic cosmos that Rondinone has constructed, evolves not within the real but in reclusion and contemplation.