A thirst for experimentation has made the practice of Swiss born, New York based artist Ugo Rondinone (b.1964) a difficult one to define. Continually working across a range of multi-disciplinary media, the thread tying his work together is not the medium itself, but the potential of that medium to perform the unexpected. Best showcased by his famed candy-coloured rock statues, we see Rondinone remodelling objects of the everyday banal into artworks that refute their given boundaries, completely reforming viewer expectations.
black white orange mountain (2016) tests the boundary between the real and the fake, with the viewer constantly engaged in this interplay. While the stone medium evokes objects found in nature, this is immediately disrupted by bold coatings of industrial paint, bringing the authenticity of the material under question. The amalgamation of the natural versus the man-made is further illustrated in the artist’s precise positioning of the stones, as they defy their usual crushing, weighty properties. We see in the careful arrangement of the rocks a certain delicacy, as they balance atop one another in a teetering formation. The sculpture becomes a modern totem, comprised of found objects to make something entirely new.
Rondinone’s rock formations feature in public installations as far and wide as the Rockefeller Plaza in New York (2013) to the middle of the Nevada desert - a commission completed just last year. From the Interstate 15, one cannot miss Seven Magic Mountains - a collection of thirty-foot stone towers in a rainbow spectrum of colours that appear alien against the rolling dunes in the background. The close proximity to Las Vegas is no coincidence in this work, as the Rock Mountains go far beyond themselves in addressing the juxtaposition between the natural landscape and the artificial ‘Sin City.’ It is these paradoxical elements within the stone works which underpin the fundamental playfulness of Rondinone’s practice. In shedding our preconceptions of the object, we are asked to instead take on a child-like curiosity and sense of imagination in our approach. Therein lies the true magic of the Rock Mountains, for their ability to make something so ordinarily familiar appear completely new again.
Ugo Rondinone represented Switzerland at the 2007 Venice Biennale. His work is included in major museum collections such as the Museum of Modern Art and New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Solo exhibitions have extended to renowned galleries across the globe, including Hauser and Wirth, Zurich, as well as Musee du Louvre and Palais de Tokyo in 2015.