Acclaimed for his major transformations of abandoned spaces worldwide, RONE returns to his hometown of Geelong with his first survey exhibition and a unique and immersive experience set to inspire audiences. His exhibition opens 27 February 2021 at the Geelong Gallery.

‘My show is an ode to abandoned spaces and a reminder to value the original treasure they once were. Influenced by the architecture of the building and the toll of time, the central installation preserves an imagined moment of the space adorned at its finest and left to slowly deteriorate. Featuring a push and pull between light and dark, viewers may be compelled to either end of the experience but are united in the same recognition of overall decay. The damage has been done and my installation invokes a longing for what is lost and cannot ever return.’

Over the last two decades, RONE has built an exceptional reputation for large-scale wall paintings and entrancing installations that explore concepts of beauty and decay. Geelong Gallery’s presentation will include the first comprehensive solo survey of the artist’s career from early stencil works and street art, to photographs that document his transformation of abandoned spaces (one of which will be brought to life in a 3D recreation, commissioned for this exhibition).

Visitors will also be taken on a journey through a unique commissioned installation, with RONE transforming one of the Gallery’s most significant rooms in response to the architecture and history of the building, as well as the Gallery’s permanent collection. A multimedia experience will connect visitors back into the urban environment where the artist’s works have been painted in abandoned properties.

 For the commissioned installation, RONE has taken inspiration from the architecture of the Douglass Gallery, one of the most historical rooms in the building’s evolution. This room’s scale and architectural and ornamental features—such as ionic pilasters, horizontal dado, and ceiling skylights— have led RONE to consider the beauty and grandness of the architecture of earlier eras, and the inevitable decay of spaces (when not valued and cared for).

Additional inspiration has come from the highly decorative interiors of Baroque grand palazzos in Venice, and the traditions of trompe l’oeil painting employed to simulate architectural details. Working with interior stylist Carly Spooner, RONE’s transformation of the room from a grand reception venue to a now derelict site, will incorporate his signature painted murals and a haunting new soundtrack by composer and collaborator Nick Batterham.

The project has also seen RONE’s re-engagement with a collection he visited in his youth. Works such as the Gallery’s iconic ‘A bush burial’ by Frederick McCubbin (1890) and several portraits are referenced in the installation, as are a number of early landscapes of Geelong.

Geelong Gallery Director & CEO, Jason Smith states, ‘RONE in Geelong is an ambitious exhibition and audience experience that will celebrate the integral connection between an internationally acclaimed artist and the city in which he was born and raised. We hope to see RONE devotees continue to celebrate his career and new audiences visit the Gallery to experience this exhibition.’

Photo complements of the Geelong Gallery: Peter Tarasiuk