Solitude Meditation & Reinvention

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Lacombe Icons:
Ugo Rondinone

Solitude, Meditation & Reinvention

Artwork by Brigitte Lacombe w/ guest photo editor Janet Johnson | NeueJournal Issue 1

Ugo Rondinone is a Swiss-born artist who is a master of inserting the surreal into the real, transforming the everyday with paintings, sculptures, video and sound. Alicja Kwade is a Berlin-based artist who plays with space and time like they’re toys, using the constructs as materials to be explored and manipulated. We put the two artists in conversation, and what resulted was a discussion about surrender and solitude, meditation and reinvention. These themes and the emotions that come along with them are present in all of Rondinone’s projects, including the high-concept exhibition “I ♥ John Giorno”, just recently opened at Palais de Tokyo in Paris. 


ALICJA KWADE: As your works increase in scale and production, how do you balance personal and creative control with the necessity to trust the other people involved?


UGO RONDINONE: Individual works may have increased in size, but I have always done large-scale installations. I respond to opportunities with work that I feel meets the needs of the situation and my instincts as an artist. It happens organically—my reaction to the environment and the development of the work. Trust is crucial in every aspect, and it comes from experience and communication.


AK: Is being tactile key to your process?


UR: The artist’s touch is very important to the process, and with modern technology there are many more ways to realize one’s vision. If I am not making renderings on the computer I am in the studio painting or sculpting.


AK: Surrender and solitude are concepts I sense strongly in your work. How essential are they to you in your process and life? Do you deliberately create time to be alone?


UR: I would relate surrender and solitude to time. They are connected to meditation and being in the moment, and letting that moment pass into the next. Acknowledging the familiar increments of days and months, but then also escaping them. Giving in to the ephemeral and the spiritual, while also staying connected to the physical, through art, requires solitude and a certain freedom that could be called surrender.


Brigitte Lacombe w/ guest photo editor Janet Johnson | NeueJournal Issue 1


AK: How do you decide who gets your time professionally and personally, including time with yourself?


UR: I need time alone to develop ideas and do my work. That solitude slows time and allows me to review and rewind as a method for developing my work, and in turn, the artwork that results is a diary of that passed time. And as in any life, there are work relationships and personal relationships. I make time for both.


AK: How often are you working?


UR: I am in the studio every day. I try to balance work with rest, but I am not always successful.


AK: There’s the feeling in your body of work of reinvention, but there is also repetition, and familiar forms and icons. What is the value for you in repetition and revisited forms? And is reinvention something you mindfully pursue?


UR: I try to create work that takes the moment and recycles it, repeats it, never completely lets it go, but also never completely captures it, the way objects and feelings are in a dream. In a dream, the most familiar object or feeling has also an awkwardness, a strangeness, that escapes our senses and defies our memory. [Whether] dreaming or awake we are always reinventing our reality—art is a physical manifestation of that condition.


AK: Do you still think time in New York is crucial? For example, should an artist just starting out move there now?


UR: I think you have to go where the energy is, especially when you are young. You have to go where there are ideas and challenges that make you question what you are doing and force you to defend your vision, refine it, [and] make it better.


Photography: Brigette Lacombe
Guest Photo Editor: Janet Johnson