"Being part of the process was something that really excited me."
Portrait of a Champion. Roger Federer and Ugo Rondinone
How Roger Federer became Cloud Six
How many dimensions are there to Roger Federer? The accomplished athlete readily agrees to be only known as “Cloud Six,” letting the art speak for itself. Roger Federer actually took a leap from simply admiring the art to becoming a part of Ugo Rondinone’s “burn shine fly” – an installation shown at last year’s Venice Biennale.
…“I came to the idea of the flying figures maybe three or four years ago and I was inspired.”
Ugo Rondinone was fascinated by trapeze artists creating an effect of flying. Clarity came to him when he was invited by Scuola Grande to do an art installation in the church. “So it made sense that they would be camouflaged as clouds.”
Roger Federer, a long-standing art lover, agreed to take part in this secret, ambitious art installation.
Suspended from the ceiling, face, hands and feet covered in silicone, exposing his body to public, remaining largely anonymous…“Cloud Six.” This experience created diverse feelings in Roger Federer: “You feel vulnerable. You feel… good. But also not good because…everybody is looking at you...”
For Federer, the chance to dive deeper into the artist’s mind, while challenging his own comfort zone, was an opportunity he could not pass up. “And it it’s a very different experience, of course, from just talking to him and admiring his art to actually being part of it and in it and working together with him.”
“It’s a universal sign that can be understood by everyone. You go into the church, you’ll see right away… flying figures camouflaged as clouds… you have a direct response to it.” The seven flying figures in the meticulous installation inspire awe with their grace and sense of belonging. “…I think the stars aligned at the right time for both of us, and I think we are both very thrilled to have finished it. I think it looks great now. We’re just waiting to see what the audience is going to say,” says Roger while seeing the installation for the first time in its setting.
Founded in 1261, Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista presents the long and rich history of the city of Venice to visitors.
Framed by a sculptural stone gateway by Venetian sculptor Pietro Lombardo, placed in the Campiello courtyard, the “shine” part is represented by a gilded sun sculpture, five meters in diameter, made out of bronze branches.
“The sun sculpture is not only an investigation of the mutable potential of sculpture as both a physical medium and a site of rich cultural discourse in art, but also a celebration of life. Its seasons and rhythms, its plants and stones, with which we share the planet and our own wildlife,” Rondinone explains.
Crossing the church’s threshold leads to the “fly” part of the installation, composed of seven human scale sculptures, giving spectators the sensation of floating in the air, camouflaged as clouds. Signifying dreams and eternity, these human clouds seem to defy gravity, rising to the cupola of the Chiesa, towards the painting of flying angels by Italian Renaissance artist Jacopo Tintoretto. And one of these clouds is none other than Roger Federer.
Then from the church, it goes back directly to the candles, the last part of the installation, called “burn.” “Like our life, which is a loop. …It has a beginning and an end. … And I wonder if the people will feel this kind of progression. Of something ordinary, like a candle. To something extraordinary like a sun. And to something spaced out as figures transformed in clouds,” Rondinone questions.
"You need to show courage in the most difficult moments."
Courage to explore the unknown
Rondinone has called Federer’s participation in “burn shine fly” courageous, a quality the 20-time Grand Slam winner knows something about. “I definitely think it takes a lot of courage to go out on a tennis court with thousands of people watching,” he says. “Playing for your family, for your country. You have to be courageous.” Making the piece was physically challenging, requiring him to be suspended in a harness and have his face and ears totally covered in casting material. “On a tennis court, I have my racquet, which is like Thor’s hammer for me,” he says. “In your underwear, in a harness, hanging there, it’s obviously a very different situation.” This setting was totally new to Federer, who plunged into this project, obviously trusting the artist. He says of Rondinone: “I told him even though my back might hurt or I feel uncomfortable under the mold or whatever the situation is, I will always make sure that the project works out perfectly.”
Commitment to a story
Hard work and dedication “helped me to become the best player I can possibly be,” Roger says. Even during the months-long rehabilitation from his knee operation, he tried to see the glass as half full. “I'm a very positive person, and this is not the moment right now to be negative, because actually I’m truly happy in my life overall…. I think when you’re 40 years old and you’ve been on tour like me for 20 years and you have an opportunity to work with somebody like Ugo, this is something exciting in itself as it takes you out of your normal world and it sort of throws you into another world, maybe a place where you’re not so quite so comfortable. But in art, I’m a little bit new and I’ve still got so much to learn… the art world was something that I was really excited about. I want to learn more because I’m a very curious person in life.” - Roger Federer
A contemporary artist who believes that art starts where language stops.
Ugo Rondinone is a New York-based, Swiss-born mixed-media artist noted for a range of contemporary paintings and sculptures. He was born in November 1964.
Rondinone is widely known for his temporary, large-scale land art sculpture Seven Magic Mountains (2016–2021), with its seven fluorescently painted totems of large, car-size stones stacked 32 feet (9.8 m) high.
Almost 50 years to Credit Suisse Art Collection
Buildings displaying art
Fine arts. Curating, collecting, commissioning.
“The collection is an intellectual commitment for the bank, not a capital investment. We spend a lot of energy on showing the right works in the right place. It is also important to us that we consider all artistic media. Of course, it is easier to just hang paintings or works on paper on the walls in a meeting room, but we want to explore the whole spectrum and also show sculptures, videos and installation works.”
André Rogger, Head of the Credit Suisse Collection, in an interview with the Handelszeitung (2017)
Upcoming exhibitions supported by Credit Suisse