opened "nuns and monks at the sea" this past January 28th, an exhibition of new works by Ugo Rondinone. The show brings together a selection of painted sculptures from his ongoing body of work, nuns + monks, and paintings from his Mattituck series, depicting sunsets at the artist's home on Long Island, New York. This marks the first time either series has been presented in Belgium. As is the case with all earlier presentations, this group of paintings and sculptures were made specifically for this context, offering the viewer a serene, soulful, and contemplative environment in which to experience these quiet, powerful works.
Imbued with the weightiness and intrigue of holy people, Rondinones nuns + monks have an undeniable presence, both as individuals and in carefully constructed groupings. These humanoid characters are composed of two elements painted with different colors: a large monolithic stone topped by a smaller one to create a bodily form. Placed on concrete pedestals, each sculpture has its own personality, with varying folds, dents, and craggs that create wonderfully complex shadows and textures along their smoothed out, vibrant finishes. Earlier works from this series consisted of larger-than-life figures that stood massively tall and made of bronze. Here, however, Rondinone has turned his attention to smaller sculptural forms, which appear as votive objects created for solitary connection and prayer. These nuns and monks are the original sculptures the artist carved from limestone and used as the basis for larger bronze iterations, and demonstrate the care and precision in Rondinones hand with these precious and intimately-sized works. Walking through the installation in this domestic space turned gallery, the viewer is able to approach each sacred personage and form a significant, singular bond with each figure encountered.
In the Mattituck paintings, named for the coastal spit of the North Fork of Long Island where he has a home and studio, Ronidinone engages the Romantic sublime to capture the awe-inspiring celestial and oceanic in simplified yet evocative forms, allowing rich colors to permeate each scene with effective power. From this easterly orientation, the course of the sun and moon is particularly dramatic, as their courses curve above the horizon line. Similar to the artists cloud and sun paintings, each artwork title records the day and year of its completion and provides a diaristic memorial for each moment captured. Each work is composed using three differing, oftentimes complementary colors, and celebrates the singular magic of each moment encountered by the artist.
The exhibition will end on March 4th, 2023.