Hauser and Wirth’s current show of works by Sterling Ruby is something of a grab-bag, incorporating a wide swath of the artist’s current practice in sculpture, assemblage and collage spread across the gallery’s vast 18th Street exhibition space. The large-scale and commanding physicality of the works is offered ample room for viewers to circle and consider, but Ruby doesn’t’ waste the space on a small set of works either. Sculptures and hanging works take up almost every square inch of the gallery, arranged in close proximity. It’s easy to miss one work or another, caught up in the commanding presence of a third nearby.
Sterling Ruby, SUNRISE SUNSET (Installation View), via Hauser and WirthBut this same scrambled assemblage of works plays nicely against the materiality and presentation of Ruby’s signature techniques, a blend of dystopian, freewheeling collage and meticulously process-oriented sculptures. Little is wasted in Ruby’s works, and the variety of pieces on view speaks to his all-encompassing studio language. In one of the show’s centerpieces, The Cup, an enormous urethane-encrusted sculpture literally overflows with its own ominous red material. Ruby takes the act of creating the sculpture, as well as its corresponding work Pillars, to dot his works throughout, with splatters of red caking his mounted collages, or appearing as a reference in the work ACTS/SOME RISE SOME REST, an impressive set of cantilevered slabs that Ruby’s battered aesthetic with the graceful movements of dye frozen in a transparent block of urethane.
Similarly, Ruby makes use of the same primary colors throughout, dotting his collages with enormous spots of green and yellow, a strong counterpoints to the faded, urethane-flecked cardboard and repetitive images glued to the surface of the work. Nearby, metallic engine blocks play against a bucket of baseball bats and the same large dots of color in a hanging mobile, further driving home his repeated visual tropes. Playing against these forms in almost direct counterpoint are a set of Ruby’s spray-paint canvases, his formless, blurry works composed from repeated lines of generic aerosol paint.
As a solo exhibition, Ruby’s show offers a concise, but expansive view of his current practice, and one that invites multiple points of connection and convergence with regards to his working methods. Even his bizarre, hanging works, composed of American flag fabric feel at home here, tied together by repeated cues and colors in other works, as well as the occasional fragment of fabric stuck haphazardly to a canvas. With such a broad vocabulary of materials and an even broader creative output, Ruby’s process here seems bound up in itself, simultaneously confounding its materials and reveling in its own self-discovery.
SUNRISE SUNSET is on view through July 25th.
— D. Creahan
Exhibition Site [Hauser and Wirth]
“Sterling Ruby: Balancing Act” [W Magazine]
“Sterling Ruby on Making It in L.A., His New Show in New York and the Power of the Art Market” [New York Times]