'I use many different media as a kind of schizophrenic labor strategy. It seems very easy now to say it, but it has taken me years to convey that this scattered routine belongs within a coherent trajectory...There is a lineage that links everything that I do together.'
Gagosian is pleased to present sculptures by Sterling Ruby at Britannia Street. This is his first solo exhibition with the gallery in London. On view will be works from two series, 'ACTS' (2008-2018) and 'TABLES' (2015-2019).
In an oeuvre spanning sculpture, ceramics, painting, drawing, collage, video, and garments, Ruby continually returns to themes of societal and art historical friction, generating feelings of anxiety and agitation by contrasting clean lines and recognisable objects with coarse and uncanny forms. ACTS + TABLE lays out Ruby's critique of the authoritarian, exclusionary ideological underpinnings of Minimalism. He begins with familiar shapes valued by the Minimalists-simple tables and rectilinear blocks-but subverts them by defacing their smooth surfaces and exposing their physical means of production.
In 'ACTS'-short for 'Absolute Contempt for Total Serenity'-Ruby captures liquid dye inside clear urethane and balances these pure prisms atop scuffed, inscribed, and spray-painted Formica bases. These works expand upon his earlier Formica sculptures such as Big Grid/DB Deth (2008), a scratched-up monolith that exudes a cold, prison-like institutional menace. In 'ACTS', the juxtaposition of unfeeling laminate slabs against vibrantly pigmented urethane is a potent one; it transforms the urethane from a passive, glassy vitrine into an active agent of incarceration that suffocates the blossoming furls of dye.
The exhibition also includes TABLE (DOUBLE LAST SUPPER) (2019), the culminating work of Ruby's 'TABLES', a series that explores the concept of personal and cultural archaeology. In 2015, Ruby moved into a gargantuan studio outside of downtown Los Angeles and salvaged the welding tables left there from the building's erstwhile function as a manufacturing warehouse. By affixing jutting metal pipes, faucets, and frying pans to the tables and covering them with tumorous masses of solder, Ruby stratifies and memorialises every act of labour that once took place on their surfaces, whether by the hands of workers from the building's previous life, or of the artist and his studio. The table-whose name and adornments reflect Ruby's own rural upbringing in a faith-dominant area of Pennsylvania-becomes a hulking, organic archaeological remnant from some unnamed human history.
This exhibition will also include a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by curator and critic Jenelle Porter.
Concurrently with ACTS + TABLE, Gagosian will present HELIOS, a solo booth displaying works from WIDW-Ruby's ongoing series of colourful, thickly coated, window-like paintings-at Frieze London from October 3 through 6.
Press release courtesy Gagosian.
London's museums and galleries are gearing up for a lively October, with Frieze fairs, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, and the experimental Sunday Art Fair just around the corner. Tessa Moldan presents a selection of the city's must-see shows.
If the laminate pedestals reveal scattered signs of vandalism (such as scratches, scuff marks, inscriptions, and traces of spray paint), the urethane blocks appear almost lyrically pictorial, innervated as they are with colour dyes that seem to have been dripped into the synthetic material and captured permanently mid-descent. If from a visual and...