Spanning the entirety of the museum’s newly designed second floor, Good Evening Beautiful Blue by Ugo Rondinone is part of a major multi-institution retrospective comprising works that span three decades of the artist’s practice, from the late 1990s to the present. From poetic installations in public spaces to life-size drawings, Rondinone’s work balances on the edge of euphoria and detachment.
Good Evening Beautiful Blue begins with Rondinone’s clockwork for oracles II (2008). The multi-wall installation is comprised of 52-mirrored windows (one for each week in the year) set against a backdrop of whitewashed pages from a local newspaper. Visitors encounter their mirrored reflections, stopping momentarily to contemplate how their temporary presence in the room contrasts with the dated newsprint behind the windows, which becomes more distant throughout the duration of the exhibition. The subsequent gallery houses vocabulary of solitude (2014-2016), the centerpiece of the exhibition and the only work present in all venues of the retrospective. vocabulary of solitude is an installation of 45 life-size clown figures cast from 22 men and 23 women of various ages and ethnicities. The work takes inspiration from the artist’s reflection on his daily actions, where each figure is engaged in a different quotidian activity, such as sleeping, dreaming, remembering, showering and walking.
Marking its first appearance in the U.S. in nearly two decades, the final gallery presents an immersive six-channel video installation titled It’s late It’s late and the wind carries a faint sound as it moves through the trees. It could be anything. The jingling of little bells perhaps, or the tiny flickering out of tiny lives. I stroll down the sidewalk and close my eyes and open them and wait for my mind to go perfectly blank. Like a room no one has ever entered, a room without any doors or windows. A place where nothing happens. (1999–2000). The entire room is given a blue tint by an illuminated ceiling, as projected slow-motion loops of six men and six women, alone in their frames, perform an unresolved gesture without acknowledging the viewer, like opening an apartment door, or floating (or sinking) in water. The final line of the work’s narrative title …A place where nothing happens. aptly describes the cyclical loop of movements performed by each figure, resulting in a thought provoking and introspective space. Together, the selection of works places the visitor in an arena of contemplation and introspection, confronted by installations that stimulate self-reflection.
(Photo: Ugo Rondinone, Vocabulary of Solitude, 2014, milled foam and epoxy resin, fabric, Image courtesy of the artist)