On the occasion of the 59th La Biennale di Venezia, the Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista presents a major solo exhibition of work by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, entitled burn shine fly.
Curated by Javier Molins, burn shine fly is installed within the historic walls of one of the oldest and most important Scuole in Venice, with both iconic works by Rondinone as well as a new body of work created specifically for this exhibition.
Founded in 1261, Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista sets before visitors the long and rich history of the city of Venice. Its walls have housed treasures ranging from relics of the True Cross to works by renowned Venetian Renaissance artists such as Titian, Carpaccio and Bellini. An imposing, sculptural stone gateway designed by 15th-century Venetian sculptor and architect, Pietro Lombardo, leads into this historic complex of buildings, transforming the street passage into an enclosed quadrangle, an intimate courtyard which leads to the church and the Scuola’s magnificent frescoed and painted rooms.
Additional information at: www.burnshinfly.com
“The sculptures in ‘burn shine fly’ aim to engender an altogether contemporary version of the sublime, one in which the smallest candle sculpture is of no less consequence than the overarching totality of the sun sculpture or the stellar marriage of the earthbound body with the waterfilled sky. The work should dazzle us and send us into a deep reflection about the marvels and mysteries of life.” - ugo rondinone
The candles belong to the group of still.life. sculptures from 2013, where I cast small everyday objects in bronze and fill the hollowness of the bronze cast with lead and place the sculpture directly on the floor. The notion of the lead reinforces the dense solidity which causes the candle to lock heavily onto the floor. Part of its sufficiency results from weight and scale; it looks distant rather than small. In establishing this distance, the candle literally puts a lot of ground between itself and the viewer, asserting its own presence, that of the empty and surrounding area, and that of the solidly horizontal place on which the candle rests.
I made the first sun sculpture for ‘voyage d’hiver,’ an outdoor exhibition at the Château de Versailles in 2017. The sun is made from pieces of branches knotted together, cast in bronze and gilded. The sun sculpture is not only an investigation of the mutable potential of sculpture as both a physical medium and a site of rich cultural disclosure 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.
In 2009, I made casts of 14 nude dancers in contemplative positions. The bodies were made with a mix of soil and transparent wax. The soil was sourced from all seven continents. Last year, I started a new video installation called ‘burn to shine’. Its shows 18 dancers dancing around a fire in the desert from sunset to sunrise. Similar to the Greek mythology of the phoenix, the immortal bird that cyclically regenerates, the dancers merge with the fire and obtain by sunrise a new life cycle. The seven flying bodies are also casts of dancers. Their bodies are camouflaged as cloudy skies. The flying body-clouds mark the end of a trilogy where the human body merges with the natural elements: soil, fire, water, and air.