ugo rondinone brings human clouds, a gilded sun and colorful burnt candles to Venice


On the occasion of the 2022 Venice Art Biennale, Ugo Rondinone presents ‘burn shine fly’, a three-part solo show set in the historic Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista. The exhibition, curated by Javier Molins, brings together both iconic works of the Swiss artist as well as a new body of work created especially for the occasion. ‘burn shine fly’ is installed in one of the oldest and most important Scuole in Venice, the walls of which have housed treasures ranging from relics of the True Cross to works by famous Venetian Renaissance artists such as Titian, Carpaccio and Bellini.

The sculptures in ‘burn shine fly’ aim to produce a wholly contemporary version of the sublime, one in which the tiniest candle sculpture is no less important than the overarching totality of the solar sculpture or the stellar marriage of the earthbound body with the water filled air’ notes Ugo Rondinone. ‘The work should dazzle us and bring us into deep reflection on the wonders and mysteries of life.’

all images: installation views, Ugo Rondinone, ‘burn shine fly’, Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista, Venice, 2022, courtesy of Galerie Eva Presenhuber, unless otherwise noted

‘burn shine fly’ In the Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista

Passing an imposing, sculptural stone gate designed by 15th-century Venetian sculptor and architect Pietro Lombardo, the gilded bronze statue of Ugo Rondinone captures the attention of passers-by. The monumental piece is located in the middle of a street passage, which feels more like an intimate courtyard due to the historic complex of buildings around it. Marking the ‘shine’ in ‘fire shine fly’‘the sun’ is made of knotted pieces of branches, cast in bronze and gilded. Rondinone created the first solar sculpture for ‘voyage d’hiver’, an outdoor exhibition at the Château de Versailles in 2017.’The solar sculpture is not only an examination of the changing potential of sculpture as both a physical medium and a place of rich cultural revelation in art, but also a celebration of life; its seasons and rhythms, its plants and stones with which we share the planet and our own wild life,’ writes the Swiss artist.

This exhibition continues in the historic complex, which includes the church, as well as the beautiful frescoed and painted rooms of the Scuola. As visitors enter, they encounter a group of seven flying human clouds. Made from casts of naked dancers, their bodies are camouflaged as cloudy skies. ‘In 2009 I made casts of 14 nude dancers in contemplative positions’ explains the artist. ‘The bodies are made with a mix of earth and transparent wax. The soil came from all seven continents. Last year I started a new video installation called ‘burn to shine’. It shows 18 dancers dancing around a fire in the desert from sunset to sunrise. As in the Greek mythology of the phoenix, the immortal bird that regenerates cyclically, the dancers merge with the fire and are given a new life cycle at sunrise.’

ugo rondinone brings human clouds, a gilded sun and colorful burnt candles to Venice
‘the sun’ sculpture

The final part of ‘burn shine fly’ is a group of colourful, burnt-out candles cast in bronze and placed directly on the floor. The candles belong to the group ‘’. sculptures from 2013, where Rondinone cast small everyday objects in bronze and filled the hollowness of the bronze casting with lead. “The idea of ​​the lead enhances the dense sturdiness that allows the candle to hang heavily on the floor,” he explains. “Part of its sufficiency comes from weight and scale; it seems far away rather than small. By establishing this distance, the candle literally places a lot of ground between itself and the viewer, thus confirming its own presence, that of the empty and surrounding area, and that of the solid horizontal spot on which the candle rests.’ The exhibition is on display until September 17, 2022.

ugo rondinone brings human clouds, a gilded sun and colorful burnt candles to Venice
image © designboom

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