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 (2006–18) and TABLES (2015–19).
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 recognizable 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, prisonlike 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 memorializes every act of labor 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 colorful, thickly coated, window-like paintings—at Frieze London from October 3 through 6.
Sterling Ruby: Disjointed Monuments to Nothing
Alessandro Rabottini investigates the theoretical and formal underpinnings of Sterling Ruby’s career through the lens of the artist’s series ACTS.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
An exhibition at Gagosian, Paris, is raising funds to aid in the reconstruction of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris following the devastating fire of April 2019. Gagosian directors Serena Cattaneo Adorno and Jean-Olivier Després spoke to Jennifer Knox White about the generous response of artists and others, and what the restoration of this iconic structure means across the world.
Sterling Ruby: Bloody Pots
Ceramics expert Garth Clark explores Sterling Ruby’s practice in the medium, addressing the work’s allegiances and divergences from tradition.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2018
The Winter 2018 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available. Our cover this issue comes from High Times, a new body of work by Richard Prince.
Sterling Ruby: Winterpalais, Vienna
Mario Codognato, curator of the exhibition, discusses Sterling Ruby’s first-ever European survey, at the Belvedere’s Winterpalais galleries.
November 27–30, 2019
Gagosian, Britannia Street, London
Join Gagosian for a special screening of Sterling Ruby’s Dihedral (2006) on the occasion of the exhibition ACTS + TABLE, on view through December 14. In the short video, a voice-over intones a modified quote from sociologist Roger Caillois’s surrealist etymological text, “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia,” as waves of color encounter a clear liquid. Dihedral illustrates the process that is captured in Ruby’s ACTS series, in which liquid dye is fixed inside clear urethane blocks. The film will be screened during gallery opening hours, from 10am to 6pm. The event is free and open to the public.
Sterling Ruby, Dihedral, 2006 (still) © Sterling Ruby
ACTS + TABLE
Thursday, November 7, 2019, 6:15pm
Gagosian, Britannia Street, London
Join Gagosian for a tour of Sterling Ruby: ACTS + TABLE, currently on view at Britannia Street, London, led by Serena Cattaneo Adorno, Gagosian director, and Alessandro Rabottini, director of Miart, International Fair of Modern and Contemporary Art. The works in the show lay 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. The event has reached capacity. To join the wait list, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Installation view, Sterling Ruby: ACTS + TABLE, Gagosian, Britannia Street, London, October 2–December 14, 2019. Artwork © Sterling Ruby. Photo: Lucy Dawkins