Sørlandets Kunstmuseum is proud to open a new exhibition by Ugo Rondinone, titled a wall. a door. a tree. a lightbulb. winter. The exhibition will be on view until April, 11 2021.
This is Rondinone’s first show at a Norwegian contemporary art museum. The exhibition will feature four selected large-scale works, that underline an important element to the artist’s work: understatement. The work All Absolute Abyss forms the leitmotif to this showing, an oversized wooden (portal), crafted with sturdy applied hardware and enamel. The door summons and beckons us; are we inside, what lies beyond, is it open, ajar or firmly shut. The exhibition signals a new chapter of the museum on the move. In 2022 Sørlandets Kunstmuseum will move into its new headquarters, Kunstsilo, a spectacularly renovated grain silo originally built in 1935. The new museum will house the world’s largest collection of Nordic Modernist art, including Nicolai Tangen’s vast collection of 20th century art featuring over 3,000 works carefully collected over the years.
Ugo Rondinone was born 1964 in Brunnen, Switzerland. After moving to Zürich to work with the Austrian multi-media artist Hermann Nitsch, he felt compelled to study at the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna. Upon his graduation in 1990, Ugo maintained an incredible work rate. A definitive move to New York, in 1998, further forging his artistic prowess. Following the positive response to his early concentric circular paintings, Rondinone started to explore other mediums and installation processes. A beautiful and hauntingly poetic togetherness with the incredible poet John Giorno, who sadly passed away in 2019, spanning over 20 years, deeply fueled the intricate variety and depth of the works Ugo develops. Rondinone’s wide-ranging practice utilizes metaphoric and iconographic images such as clouds, animals and figures, as well as powerful declarative sayings. His work is often founded on themes and motifs from our everyday surroundings (light bulbs, masks, trees, etc.) that acquire a poetic dimension by being isolated, repeated or given specific material treatments. With respect to their form, his installations contain diverse references found within the history of art and popular culture.
A well-known recent work in this respective is Seven Magic Mountains placed in the expansive desert-lands of Nevada, USA. The installation is comprised of playfully stacked rocks coated in a special highly artificial looking coat of weather resilient day-glo paint. Imagine all hues of the rainbow paired with more subdued blacks and greys. Ugo noted the connection between these natural stones and their applied “new exterior” shapes a continuum between human and nature, artificial and natural, then and now. The contrast between the works shown at SKMU could not be higher nor more intentional. The exhibition will feature four selected large-scale works, that underline another important element to Rondione’s work: understatement. These naturally crafted objects, that exist on their own, without applied narrative, exist as bare poetic objects free for the onlooker to discover. The work All Absolute Abyss forms the leitmotif to this showing, an oversized wooden (portal), crafted with sturdy applied hardware and enamel. The door summons and beckons us; are we inside, what lies beyond, is it open, ajar or firmly shut. Together with the other works shown here; questions of belonging, of space, of nature, of interior and exterior, of fantasy, of desire and togetherness are evoked. The quiet room transports the onlooker into a secluded space, free from distracting societal noise and torrential (digital) information. Instead we are allowed to be silent. The works simply exist as they are, made with wonderful attention to detail, allowing the audience to experience them in their own respective ways. This rather melancholic world ensures that the boundaries between reality and dreamworld fade. What remains is a deeply personal suspension of time. The rest is darkness.