Ugo Rondinone’s oeuvre takes up a unique position in the contemporary art scene and his contribution in revisiting the codes and the histories of the visual arts has been exceptional.
Having developed very precise and obsessive series—from clown sculptures to stone figures, target paintings, masks, oversized wax light bulbs, stripe paintings, landscape ink drawings, bronze still-life objects, video and sound installations—Ugo Rondinone advances extremely diverse techniques, combining concepts with performative figures, abstract forms with raw materials, exploring themes of fantasy and desire, branching out in literature and poetry, contemporary cinema and the visual arts.
Paying very close attention to his art projects, Ugo Rondinone always refuses to conceive of his solo exhibitions as a display of artworks but rather as a total art statement, offering the visitor a very strong visual and emotional experience combined with powerful poetic and critical observations.
Ugo Rondinone states:"Since 2007 all my exhibitions have used the natural colors of the material that was used in the production of the work: stone, clay, earth, bronze or aluminum. It's now time to bring back all the colors of the spectrum. This exhibition will combine different color works from the past and the present into one unifying installation."
In recent years, Ugo Rondinone has produced a whole set of works related to a dominant black-grey-brown color series. Most major exhibitions for this series included the famous primitive stone sculptures commissioned by the Public Art Fund for the Rockefeller Plaza in New York (Human Nature, 2013), the earth installations and body wax sculptures at M – Museum Leuven (Thank You Silence, 2013), the handmade bronze bird sculptures and black ink landscape paintings at Eva Presenhuber gallery (Kiss Now Kill Later, 2011).
Regarding the exhibition title, the curator Larys Frogier elaborates: "Rondinone's large rainbow sign BREATHE WALK DIE embodies perfectly how simple and enigmatic, how imperative and simultaneously poetic the affirmation and allure of BREATHE WALK DIE could be. This new neon sign, following others like WE ARE POEMS, HELL YES!, or OUR MAGICAL HOUR seems to point out both raw reality and hidden aspects of our history. The sign encapsulates and makes palpable an unnamed collective desire, and, in turn, inspires a new one: to understand why this hour, for example, is so magical."