Spectrum Ripper. The main gallery space presents a series of paintings and sculptures which Ruby has covered in layers of industrial spray paint. The effect is an atmospheric, almost spatial experience of the colour spectrum; pale blue and yellow, turbid pink, acid green, all tainted with black.
Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are delighted to announce 'Spectrum Ripper', the
first UK solo exhibition of LA based artist Sterling Ruby. The main gallery space
presents a series of paintings and sculptures which Ruby has covered in layers of
industrial spray paint. The effect is an atmospheric, almost spatial experience of
the colour spectrum; pale blue and yellow, turbid pink, acid green, all tainted with
black. Together with Ruby’s highly gestural touch these works recall the hasty
nature of street graffiti. The composition of the paintings evokes the idea of
abstract landscapes, which again is echoed in the floor sculptures in front of them.
'Spectrum Ripper', the last of a three-part 'Ripper' trilogy, is the artist’s allegorical response to the process of defacement within the urban landscape. Ruby uses utilitarian material, such as spray-paint and Formica to create an aesthetic that reflects the daily experience of contemporary life while challenging our traditional definitions of taste. Yet, it is the marriage of urban culture and the modernist legacy of abstract art that makes Ruby’s work so engaging. His paintings and sculptures investigate the legacy of American post-war art, in particular Abstract Expressionist painting and minimalist sculpture. Ruby speaks for a generation of artists who seek to re-inscribe the experience of physicality, sexuality and death into a genre of sculpture which has been historically defined as formal and pure.
Once described as straddling the line between ’decoration and tragedy’, Ruby’s art is also an expression of the psychological repression of fatality. Highly influenced by Ernest Becker’s 1973 book 'The Denial of Death' Ruby constantly seeks to break our allegedly natural desire for heroic beauty and its sculptural symbol, the monolith. In this respect, the two sculptures in the gallery can be interpreted as fallen symbols of male power. By bringing down the monolith, Ruby not only castrates the phallic meaning often associated with this form, but he also quotes The Rothko Chapel by turning the erect sculpture into a functional device, the bench. Installed two years before the publication of 'The Denial of Death', The Rothko Chapel sought to enable a spiritual experience which Becker considered to be at a crisis point at the time. While Ruby seeks to explore the formal potential of Rothko’s legacy and the theoretical implications of Becker onto modern society, his art is also full of mischief and humour resulting in a fresh approach to contemporary painting.
'Spectrum Ripper' is the last of a three-part series which begins in September 2008 with 'Zen Ripper' at Galleria Emi Fontana in Milan and 'Grid Ripper' at GAMeC in Bergamo. Based on US vernacular, the 'Ripper' series is concerned with the deconstruction (‘ripping’) of Modernist tropes, such as the grid as ultimate harmonious form, Zen as a Western pseudo-religious practice, and finally, the colour spectrum, which Ruby contaminates with black in this exhibition.
Sterling Ruby was born in Bitburg, Germany in 1972. He finished his master’s degree in 2005 at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA and received his bachelor’s degree in 2001 from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 2008 solo exhibitions include 'Supermax 2008' at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 'CHRON' at The Drawing Center, New York and 'Kiln Works' at Metro Pictures in New York. Recent group exhibitions include:' Substraction' at Deitch Projects, New York (2008), The Moscow Biennale for Contemporary Art (2007); The California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art; and 'Red Eye: LA Artists' in the Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2006). Ruby’s ceramic works will be included in the upcoming exhibition 'Dirt On Delight' at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, which will then travel to the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis. A forthcoming monograph will be published by JRP Ringier at the beginning of 2009. Sterling Ruby lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
Private view: Thursday 9 October, 6 to 8pm
Monika Spruth Philomene Magers London
7/A Grafton Street - London
Opening hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 6pm and by appointment