His new melancholic sculptures are hybrids, Ruby combines huge fragments of a reclaimed American submarine with engine parts and steel pipes to create freestanding, battleship-gray abstractions that resemble drag cars, bulldozers, and plows.
The studio has become a kind of excavation site for me. Years of accumulated material and work are spread through the buildings, almost like a dumping ground. This setting has taken my work to another level of cycling through materials. There is this idea that projects are laid to rest, but over time these things that are always present as material or as remnants are dug up and reassessed, catalysts are created between works from the past and new works.
Gagosian Gallery is pleased to announce Sterling Ruby’s first solo exhibitions in Paris at the Rue de Ponthieu and Le Bourget galleries.
Cultivating an eclectic formalism across mediums, Ruby creates vivid poured-polyurethane sculptures, drawings, collages, richly glazed ceramics, spray paintings, and videos. Oscillating between solid and liquid, minimalist and expressionist, pristine and abject, he alludes to rituals both mainstream and marginal, autobiography, and art history. Intellectually, frontiers interest him, from urban gang territories demarcated in graffiti to the charting of newly discovered stars and planets; in his work, Ruby tests formal limits, marking the edges of the canvas and limning the boundaries between creation, destruction, and renewal. In abstract paintings, acts of defacement evolve into a painterly sublime; while wood-burning stoves, ceramic basins containing shards of broken or misfired pottery, and soft sculptures resembling fanged jaws convey the raw potential of sculpture.
In the new YARD paintings at Gagosian Rue de Ponthieu, Ruby uses rollers and brooms to spread a soft palette of red, blue, green, and purple acrylic paints over unprimed canvases laid directly on the studio ground; incidental debris and textures beneath the canvas emerge as impressions during the frottage process. Fabric, cardboard, and other studio fragments are attached to the edges of each painting, like mysterious satellites at the borders of indeterminate topographies. Titles such as TCOM KUWAIT and DURAND LINE reference aerial military surveillance and conflict areas; others—ALPHA ANDROMEDAE, TIAMAT, PANGEA ULTIMA—are borrowed from constellations, ancient mythologies, and a potential supercontinent of the distant future.
At the Gagosian Le Bourget gallery are new sculptures made from hulking industrial parts sourced in the vicinity of Ruby’s Los Angeles studio. In these melancholic hybrids, Ruby combines huge fragments of a reclaimed American submarine with engine parts and steel pipes to create freestanding, battleship-gray abstractions that resemble drag cars, bulldozers, and plows. Titles such as HULL (VIPER) and DRAG (BANKER) hint at these transformations. These sculptures are interspersed with grounded soft sculptures entitled CANDLES: brightly colored, stuffed textiles manipulated to resemble overturned lit candlesticks. DEEP FLAGS are vast synthetic black fleeces stained with bleach; a rectangular fragment of the same material is attached to the upper left corner of each work, echoing the stars of the American flag. The speckled panels also evoke the fathomless depth of outer space, a sensation that ends abruptly at their striped elastic borders. Parsing the boundaries that divide, protect, isolate, and promote individual cultures, Ruby continues to evolve his dissonant formal reflection of contemporary reality.
The exhibitions are accompanied by a fully illustrated publication with an essay by critic and novelist Philippe Dagen.
Concurrent to these exhibitions the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature will present Ruby’s monumental woodburning STOVES, installed in the central courtyard of the museum. A fully illustrated book documenting the production of the works will be published on the occasion.
Sterling Ruby was born on an American air force base in Bitburg, Germany in 1972, and lives and works in Los Angeles. Public collections include Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Tate, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Solo exhibitions include “CHRON,” The Drawing Center, New York (2008); “SUPERMAX 2008,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2008); “Grid Ripper,” Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo (2008–09); “SOFT WORK,” Centre D’Art Contemporain, Geneva (2012, traveled to FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims; Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm; and Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome); “CHRON II,” Fondazione MEMMO, Rome (2013, traveled to Kunsthalle Mainz); “Droppa Blocka,” Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Ghent (2013); and “Sterling Ruby,” Baltimore Museum of Art (2014). In 2014, Ruby’s work was included in the Taipei Biennial, the Gwangju Biennial, and the Whitney Biennial. His work will be included in Art Public at Art Basel Miami Beach from December 2–6, 2015.
Image: TIAMAT, 2015. Acrylic, treated fabric, and cardboard on canvas 96 × 126 inches (243.8 × 320 cm) © Sterling Ruby. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer
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Opening reception: Wednesday, 21st October, from 6:00 to 8:00pm
4 rue de Ponthieu 75008 Paris
Hours: Tue-Sat 11-7