Ugo Rondinone: the world just makes me laugh incorporates imagery and themes from popular culture as well as drawing inspiration from historical art movements such as Romanticism and Surrealism. Seemingly lighthearted motifs including rainbows, clowns, and clown shoes take on a melancholy tone in this riveting and psychologically intense installation. Rondinone’s nuanced use of space, scale, color, and pose contribute to a brooding sense of the sublime. The joy and wonder of children’s drawings of rainbows, for example, are counterbalanced by the formal and emotional weight of the sheer number of images.
Forty-five life-size, highly realistic clown sculptures, from Rondinone’s installation vocabulary of solitude, form the exhibition’s centerpiece. Festively attired, with closed eyes and expressionless faces, these figures suggest at once a sense of euphoria and a state of melancholy. For Rondinone, the clowns collectively “represent one person in solitary activity within an enclosed space.” He writes:
"each single clown is named in the present tense after one solitary activity:
The BAMPFA exhibition also features several related works, including Rondinone’s sixty-drawing series 1998; four pairs of clown shoes; eight large-scale paintings from the artist’s sun series; an oversized lightbulb sculpted from wax; and thousands of drawings of rainbows made by children from all over the world, including Berkeley.
Born in Brunnen, Switzerland, in 1964, Rondinone lives and works in New York City. Ugo Rondinone: the world just makes me laugh is his first solo museum exhibition in the Bay Area.