Sterling Ruby

(USA) b.1972

Lives and works in Los Angeles

Sterling Ruby uses a wide range of aesthetic strategies in his practice, from saturated, glossy, poured polyurethane sculptures, to drawings, collages, richly glazed ceramics, graffiti-inspired spray-paint paintings, and video. His work is a balancing act, maintaining a constant tension between a multitude of elements. Addressing issues related to the violence and pressures within society, autobiography and art history, in all of his work, Sterling Ruby vacillates between the fluid and the static, the minimalist and the expressionistic, the pristine and the defaced. 

TB2014 features 35 collage works by Ruby spanning a decade of production. These works offer the viewer entry to the continuing formal and thematic obsessions of the artist, from caves to the cosmos, hip-hop to horror, prison systems to public sculpture, arts and crafts to existentialism. Prison (2004), is an early example of the artist’s use of prisons as subject. Also on view are works that incorporate splattered nail polish like Scratch/Chanel La Vernis (2008). The transcendental implications of the Head Trekkers series with its skulls as a planet motif is continued in the artist’s most recent series, DRFTRS (2013), where images of engines, skulls, caves, burial grounds, crafted pillows, movie monsters and a marked-up Helter Skelter title page seemingly float in washes of paint. Channeling violent and uncomfortable imagery, Ruby creates works all the more intriguing for their often unexpected beauty.  

Ruby has exhibited at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture, Moscow; Saatchi Gallery, London; MACRO, Rome; Museum Dhondt Dhaenens, Ghent, Belgium; and Baibakov Art Projects, Moscow. He has held solo exhibitions at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; The Drawing Center, New York; La Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy; FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Riems, France; the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Switzerland; and Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm.

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