nuns + monks
Dominating the cavernous space at Gladstone Gallery is a trio of Crayola-colored behemoths, plonked down like abandoned playthings from a giant’s neo-Brutalist toybox. One evokes a grave green figure with a solemn, craggly head, his eye sockets—rendered with the twinned press of colossal thumbs—manifesting as gaping, irregular indentations. Nearby sits a capacious, yellow figure that widens two-thirds of the way up, as though stretching out its caped elbows. Then, blue red nun (2021) looks to be a thick-rumped, blue-headed figure in red, seemingly captured mid-stride in a long robe.
Premiering in the United States in “nuns + monks,” Ugo Rondinone’s eponymous sculptural series explores the long-running iconography of nuns and monks throughout art history. While the surfaces appear to retain the mottled texture of clay or play-doh—an association that’s certainly encouraged by the primary and secondary color scheme—the pieces are, in fact, cast bronze. In its upending of scale and space, “nuns + monks” continues Rondinone’s longtime engagement with natural forms as it taps into the ancient impulse to monumentalize our handmade creations.
Ugo Rondinone, orange yellow nun, 2021. Painted bronze, 157 1/2 x 83 1/2 x 59 5/8 inches. Copyright Ugo Rondinone, Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels