Ugo Rondinone: Bright Light Shining
Gladstone Gallery, New York
September 14 – November 09, 2023
Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce bright light shining, an exhibition by Ugo Rondinone. For this show, the artist presents new, large-scale sculptures along with an interconnected body of work, which act as building blocks of the perfect storm. In the center of the exhibition are three massive lightning strikes that forcefully punctuate the space. Painted in bright, dayglo yellow, the bronze light sculptures depict the crooked and rhythmic lines that form strikes of lightning, creating tangible and static representations of these miraculous experiences and awe-inspiring phenomena. A hung cloud relief created with sand, gravel, and concrete accompanies the light sculptures in the artist’s conjuring of environmental marvels.
Using heavy elements borne directly from the earth, Rondinone suggests the interconnectedness of the materials that comprise both land and sky. As the viewer moves around the exhibition, each form continually changes based on the viewer’s vantage point. The conscientious selection of materiality in the works empowers a greater understanding of Rondinone’s experiential presentation. Connected here by towering lightning strikes and a weighty cloud, Rondinone freezes an inexplicable moment in time that captures the excitement, fear, and impending change brought on by environmental happenings, seemingly out of our control.
Often employing natural forms and materials in his work, Rondinone’s examination of nature through painting, drawing, and sculpture alludes to deep, conceptual conversations surrounding the ways in which humans connect to their environments and the elements that comprise them. Lightning bolts, which we ordinarily experience as flashes of light in a storm, also connect to Rondinone’s interest in the earthly realm and the sublime, as seen in German Romanticism and the works of Caspar David Friedrich, whom he has often made references to in his practice.
Lightning forms a bridge between the earthly realm and the divine, suggesting the possibility of transcending the physical world and everyday life. Rondinone’s light sculptures further recall other natural forms in our everyday life, including inverted branches or the roots of a tree. As such, Rondinone places the quotidian as nothing short of extraordinary. As with the artist’s colored mountain and nuns + monks sculptures, which similarly feature natural forms painted in bright neon colors, the vivid, artificial coloration of these works creates a stunning contrast and serves to evoke an altogether contemporary version of the sublime. Each composition emphasizes temporality and the fleeting passage of time, while simultaneously complicating our conceptions of impermanence and materiality.