Ugo Rondinone, nuns + monks Esther Schipper, Berlin
"Stones have been a presence and recurring material and symbol in my art. They are the subjects of the stone figures that I began with the monumental Human Nature installation at the Rockefeller Plaza in 2013, followed by Seven Magic Mountains in the Nevada Desert in 2016.
Both groups are the study and enjoyment of naturally formed stones as objects of beauty and contemplation, and in turn generate personal, meditative states of looking in which the boundaries between the outside world and internally visualized spaces break down. In doing so, I make sculptures of what it means and feels like to see, whether this is understood to be a physical or metaphysical phenomenon.
nuns + monks will continue to address the dual reflection between the inner self and the natural world. Just as the external world one sees is inseparable from the internal structures of oneself, 'nuns + monks' allows such layers of signification to come in and out of focus, prompting the viewer to revel in the pure sensory experience of color, form, and mass while simultaneously engender in an altogether contemporary version of the sublime."
— Ugo Rondinone
The sculptures of nuns + monks possess a natural beauty. An 'archaic' beauty that evokes other sculptural ensembles by the artist: Human Nature on Rockefeller Plaza in 2013 and Seven Magic Mountains in the Nevada desert in 2016. They manifest visibility yet at the same time seem to avoid the gaze of those to whom they are shown. Their features are indistinct. And in this era of multiple gender identities, they are divested of sexual characteristics, even though their titles allow us to differentiate them. It would certainly be extremely difficult to distinguish the nuns from the monks based on their mere appearance.
— Erik Verhagen, "Transfigured matter", nuns + monks, exhibition's press release, 2020
nuns + monks, 2020
The works presented in the exhibition are unique sculptures that belong to Ugo Rondinone's new body of work, nuns + monks.
Conceived on the occasion of his solo exhibition at Esther Schipper, Berlin, the seven 3-meter tall sculptures are made of two parts—the body and the head—that form the basic shape of a human body wrapped in a cloak.
Cast in bronze, the sculptures were conceived from limestone models, scans of which were “three-dimensionalized” within a digital program. The bronze casts were then painted. Each sculpture weighs 450 kg approx.
the evening 1822, 2016
Dating from 2015 and 2016, the quietly provocative artworks collectively known as Windows form a significant series from Ugo Rondinone. Each work in this series of hanging life-size windows cast in bronze or aluminum is named after a painting by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich. The bronze windows designate paintings with night-time scenes. When completed, this series will stand in for Friedrich’s complete oeuvre, 160 windows in total.
Left in their raw state after casting, each work in the series undermines the fundamental function of the window in daily life with their defiant solidity and sightless panes. Instead of diminishing the interiority of the spaces they hang in by allowing us to see outside, Rondinone’s metal windows reinforce a sense of isolation from the external world and provoke a palpable sense of enclosure.