Magazine article Artforum International

Ugo Rondinone: Galerie Eva Presenhuber

Magazine article Artforum International

Ugo Rondinone: Galerie Eva Presenhuber

Article excerpt

Ugo Rondinone

GALERIE EVA PRESENHUBER

When Ugo Rondinone reluctantly gave his first public lecture in New York at the New School in 2013, it consisted of an extraordinarily literal walk-through of a retrospective exhibition that had been held at the Aargauer Kunsthaus in Switzerland three years before: "I pass the ten bistro tables of the cafeteria and go to the ticket counter that is on the far left of the lobby. To the right of the ticket counter is the entrance to the first of seven rooms of the ground floor.... The first room has three sculptures. A tree, an oversize lightbulb, and a low relief of my right hand. In the middle of the room stands a white olive tree." And so on. Rondinone meticulously listed every single work, the series it was part of, its name, and the materials from which it was made. This is the language of a catalogue raisonne, the degree zero of art history.

The cumulative effect of this painfully precise enumeration was monumentally boring, but in an interesting way. It demonstrated Rondinone's fundamental mistrust of language as a tool for interpretation. As he said to Jarrett Earnest in the Brooklyn Rail the same year, "Language is tricky. We explain concepts with other concepts. It's a losing game." If we were to follow Rondinone's directive, the description of his latest show in Zurich would run like this: "From June 13 to July 24, Ugo Rondinone presented eight paintings of brick walls in the Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich. The walls were orange, yellow, black, purple, white, green, pink, and blue. They were coated in oil paint on burlap. Each one was named after a specific date, written as one word, for instance zweiundzwanzigsterjunizweitausendundvierzehn (twenty-second of june two thousand and fourteen), 2015. The paintings were erected across the gallery space on wooden supports. A visitor walking along the path defined by the walls saw, at various turns, six sculptures of opaque windows. …

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