New York, 980 Madison Avenue
Sterling Ruby, named “one of the most interesting artists to emerge in the twentieth century” by New York Times art critic Roberta Smith in her review of the his two coinciding New York exhibitions in 2008, has been under the spotlight in the last decade or so. The mastery of the Germany-born and L.A.-based artist comes from his ability to build mental bridges between various genres, mediums, and disciplines, while maintaining a divergent practice that omits classification. From his ceramic sculptures that eerily resist figurative formations with their oozing, amorphic shapes to his multilayered mixed media paintings, Ruby’s expansive body of work complicates already-turbulent nature of human mind.
In this Gagosian Gallery exhibition, Ruby introduces a new body of work in painting, sculpture, collage, video, and sculpture, featuring largest examples of his ongoing Basin Theology sculpture series which were also included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Containing both animate and lifeless elements with their vibrant colors and demised components, these sculptures capture the fluid interconnectedness of existence that stands between life and death or reality and illusion.
His paintings on view further this dialogue between the past and present: Ruby paints over his former YARD paintings and covers them with oil paint to turn into new works. Employing various objects he found in his studio onto canvas, Ruby tests the limits of painterly expression, while subverting visual extends of both figuration and abstraction. I am smashing all of my previous attempts and futile, contemporary gestures, placing them into a mortar, and grinding them down with a pestle. If I put all of these remnants into a basin, and it gets taken away from me, then I am no longer responsible for all my misdirected efforts,” explains Ruby about his introspective practice that often manifests traces from his previous works.
On view through April 25, 2017