Art can open our eyes to the intricacy and beauty of the natural world.
Ugo Rondinone is renowned for turning natural phenomena in works of art. The exhibition clouds + mountains + waterfalls at Sadie Coles HQ presents the latest pieces of the Swiss-born artist, which connect primordial elements with contemporary existentialism. Rondinone‘s Clouds paintings depict immeasurable space through ethereal trompe l’oeil images, while also exuding a contrary sense of finiteness created by the jigsaw-style silhouette of the canvas itself. Like entities of time and space, each painting is at once universal and contained. In this context, the pieces’ diluted color palette suggests visionary associations and infinite imaginative possibilities that softy fade into each other. The vaporous clouds and boundless sky pay homage to great Romantic painters such as Caspar David Friedrich, while at the same time subverting those precursors through the canvases’ cartoon borders. Mediating between geological formations and abstract compositions, the Mountain sculptures consist of rocks stacked vertically on concrete plinths. Inspired by natural balancing rock formations, the works seem to defy gravity in their teetering composition, but equally to depend on it. Their fragile yet strong appearance metaphorically recall men’s struggle to maintain a balance between physicality and emotions. Each stone is painted with bright Day-Glo pigments that highlight the juxtaposition of natural and artificial elements. Like the Mountain sculptures, the Waterfall sculptures look simultaneously weightless and earthbound. Delicately balanced on the floor, they seem both to cascade downwards and unfurl upwards. Caught between rugged literalism and symbolic potential, Ugo Rondinone‘s latest works encapsulate a certain idea of “mental trinity” that has underpinned his art for more than twenty years.