The wise

Ugo Rondinone

For the Place des Deux-Églises in Onex, Ugo Rondinone has dreamt up a monumental sculpture ten metres high representing a human figure in an upright position. He took his inspiration from the famous Stonehenge site in the United Kingdom, from where he borrowed the impressive stone monoliths and the architecture. Rondinone has actually constructed his figure’s legs by arranging his blocks in such a way as to leave an opening between them in the shape of a door, which constitutes an indirect response to the wish expressed by the communal authorities to indicate the entrance to Brot Park, which is located behind the sculpture. In this way, the artist is reinterpreting and updating a colossal Bronze Age structure, which bears witness to an unparalleled feat of collective engineering, considering the size and weight of these monoliths.

the wise has been created in granite, which the artist defines as the “the world’s oldest organic material”. Rondinone has deliberately opted to leave the stone in a very rough hewn state in the final rendering of the work in order to maintain the visibility of the various processes that imposed its shape on it: quarrying, cutting, transport, assembly and erection. Archaism also comes through in the elementary, archetypical human representation, composed of two long legs without joints, a trunk without arms and a head without a face.

In looking towards the bell towers of the church and temple situated in the same location on the other side of the road, the wise forms a third vertical on the site and balances out the whole, visibly creating a link (another wish expressed by the communal authorities) between the old part of Onex (the village) and the housing estate, which have always been separated by the road.

Superimposed on this formal echo comes another, more symbolic one. Thanks to the artist’s choices of material (stone), technique (minimum interventions left visible) and subject (human being), this sculpture takes on a universal dimension traversing time and space. What the human and the stone have in common is the part they play in the plastic creations of nearly all civilisations. Being a protective figure, given its posture and size, Rondinone’s colossus evokes a form of ancestral spirituality. The artist proposes this return to very ancient shapes as an invitation to connect the contemporary world up with the origins of humanity again.

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