May 21, 2010
The Aargauer Kunsthaus is presenting the most comprehensive solo exhibition to date of internationally renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Completely taking over the exhibition space with his works, Ugo Rondinone transforms individual galleries into atmospheric stage sets and seductive universes.
The New York-based artist works in a variety of media and art forms. From sculpture and painting to installation. At the Aargauer Kunsthaus he is not showing his work isolated from one another, but as atmospheric stages sets. The title of the Ugo Rondinone’s solo show is derived from Hans Henny Jahnn’s Die Nacht aus Blei (The Night of Lead). Jahnn’s novel served as a source of inspiration for the exhibition.
Ugo Rondinone was born in Brunnen, Switzerland, in 1962. He was master student under Ernst Caramelle at the Hochschule für angewandte Kunst (University of Applied Arts) in Vienna from 1985 until 1990. Since the late 1990s he lives in New York. Since 1985 Ugo Rondinone’s work has been included in numerous international solo and group exhibitions.
Ugo Rondinone: The Night of Lead at Aargauer Kunsthaus. Opening reception, May 12, 2010.
Both nationally and internationally, Ugo Rondinone (b.1964) is one of the most noted contemporary Swiss artists. But whereas renowned institutions around the globe regularly devote major exhibitions to his work, Rondinone’s last solo show in this country dates back eleven years. The 2010 exhibition “Ugo Rondinone – The Night of Lead” finally ends this long hiatus, with the Aargauer Kunsthaus serving as the venue for a comprehensive solo exhibition that includes large-scale sculptural works and paintings as well as audio and video pieces. In addition to a large selection of works from recent years a number of new works and site-specific installations created specifically for the Aargauer Kunsthaus will be on view.
The New York-based artist works in a variety of media and art forms – sculpture, painting, sound installation and installation art, collage –, with his entire output being suffused by a sense of poetry. His exhibition at the Aargauer Kunsthaus revolves around a reflection on spatial aspects and the relationship to transience and time. Instead of showing his varied works isolated from one another, Rondinone presents them as three-dimensional “total images,” as atmospheric stage sets or seductive dreamscapes in which anything seems possible.
The eponymous novel referenced by the exhibition title, Hans Henny Jahnn’s Die Nacht aus Blei (The Night of Lead), served as a source of inspiration for the exhibition. The novel relates how a man, while roaming around a city during a “leaden” winter night, encounters his own younger self. In the narrative, psychological and metaphysical dimensions overlap and the distinction between past and present is erased. Taking their cue from the story, Ugo Rondinone’s powerful installations oscillate between dreamlike landscapes and stage-like settings. In keeping with the duality of day and night, the exhibition sprawls across two floors of the museum, with exclusively black works such as the twelve-part mask series MOONRISE (2004), the minimalist X sculpture Lessness (2003) or one of Rondinone’s psychologically haunting, ambient sound installations being shown on the basement level.
In the spacious galleries on the ground floor the artist presents carefully staged settings of larger than life-sized sculptures, such as mock-ups of an ancient olive tree or of a fireplace with mantle, as well as large-scale paintings. Providing a stark contrast are small-scale works of extreme fragility such as casts of tangerines, delicate diary drawings or poems written on the museum wall. A central theme of the entire exhibition is the juxtaposition of the spiritual and the poetic with the banal and the everyday. The exhibition The Night of Lead brings together more than sixty works.
Not contenting himself with completely taking over the galleries, Ugo Rondinone, moreover, stages an artistic intervention in the very architecture of the Aargauer Kunsthaus with a large-scale façade work, thus turning the museum as a whole into his “medium.” The museum’s glass is painted over with a white brick structure, literally “walling up” the museum. This gesture is typical of the artist, as he recurrently seeks to establish a boundary between his work and the outside world and to distance it from the everyday, creating a shelter for art. The exhibition was organised in conjunction with the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León in Spain.
Ugo Rondinone, born in Brunnen, Switzerland, in 1962, was a master student under Ernst Caramelle at the Hochschule für angewandte Kunst (University of Applied Arts) in Vienna from 1985 until 1990. Since the late 1990s he lives in New York. Since 1985 Ugo Rondinone’s work has been included in numerous international solo and group exhibitions, including at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y Léon, Léon (2009); Sculpture Center, New York (2008); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2008); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2007); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg (2007); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2006); Witte de With – Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2005), Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2004); Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, Ottawa (2004); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2003); Museum für neue Kunst/ZKM, Karlsruhe (2002); Swiss Institute, New York (2002); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2002); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2002); Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2001); P.S.1. Contemporary Art Center, New York (2000); Kunsthaus Glarus (1999). In 1996 Ugo Rondinone represented the Swiss Confederation at the São Paolo Biennial. As part of the 52nd Biennale of Venice in 2007 he presented (with Urs Fischer) an extraordinary installation at the church of San Stae. Ugo Rondinone has received numerous awards for his artistic work.
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