Ugo Rondinone. Vocabulary Of Solitude

16 Dec 2017 – 30 Dec 2018

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Slumbering clowns with cheerful hats at rakish angles and glittering, festive costumes are moving into ARKEN. The clowns have been created by the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, and they are the focal point for the star artist’s great solo exhibition.


ARKEN’s 150-metre-long Art Axis forms the setting for the exhibition. 45 hyperrealistic clowns cast from male and female models make up the installation vocabulary of solitude from 2014. Usually clowns are happy, energetic and entertaining, but here they are the opposite: contemplative and passive. They convey melancholy, as they do not meet our intuitive expectations of the funny clown. They are merely human beings who have just stepped out of their roles and their clown shoes; or are on their way into their roles and are just about to tie their shoelaces – captured in a peaceful moment before the show begins.

vocabulary of solitude is a portrait of a single person’s day represented in 45 acts. They are individually titled in the present tense: be. breathe. sleep. dream. wake. rise. sit. hear. look. think. stand. walk. pee. shower. dress. drink. fart. shit. read. laugh. cook. smell. taste. eat. clean. write. daydream. remember. cry. nap. touch. feel. moan. enjoy. float. love. hope. wish. sing. dance. fall. curse. yawn. undress. lie. Each passive clown is a stand-in for one of these actions. Together they form an endless 24-hour loop.

Intuitive joy and empathy

Ugo Rondinone’s work oscillates between the romantic outlook of the natural world and the existential introspection of the inner world. He plays on our intuitive and impulsive recognition of motifs like a clown, a tree or a rainbow. The rainbow in particular primarily signals beauty, emancipation and innocence. In addi­tion the rainbow tells a fundamental political story of personal freedom, as the symbol par excel­lence of the LGBT+ milieu and the rights of homosexuals.

The simple, solid message is that you are free to love the one you love. This is an indisputable, universal human right that may be taken for granted in Denmark, which is generally known as the world’s first country to introduce civil marriages for homosexuals. However, not everyone enjoys this right, so there are still freedom struggles to be fought. The rainbow speaks a global visual language that inspires empathy, joy and fighting spirit.

Large-scale signature works 

The exhibition has been created in close collaboration with Ugo Rondinone. The artist has meticulously placed every single work in a flow that invites the visitor on a walk through an animated dreamscape.

In addition to vocabulary of solitude the exhibition includes several large-scale signature works, such as wind moon from 2011: a six-metre tall aluminium tree coated in white enamel cast from a 2000 year old olive tree. Another extensive work in the show is the site-specific window installation love invents us from 1999 which illuminates the Art Axis in all the colours of the rainbow. The intensity of the work is dependent on the rhythm of the day and the effect will be strongest around mid-day.

The vibrant painting achtundzwanzigsterjunizweitausendundsechzehn from 2016 is also painted in all the colours of the rainbow. Created with an airbrush technique the piece causes an optical effect making the painting dance before your eyes. Made out of wood, glass, aluminum and paint the work, the open from 2014 is a blind window at once reflecting the viewer and offering a gaze into a blue void. Lastly, the exhibition includes the subtle work calm from 2006, a pair of ragged clown shoes emphasizing the tension between show time and closing time.

The exhibition is made in collaboration with Ugo Rondinone and Frahm & Frahm.

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Ugo Rondinone


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