GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea of Bergamo will present GRID RIPPER the first solo exhibition dedicated to Sterling Ruby by a European museum (Bitburg, Germany, 1972. Lives and works in Los Angeles).
Accompanying the exhibition will be the most complete monograph to date dedicated to the artist’s work. Published by JRP / Ringier, it will include texts by Jörg Heiser, Robert Hobbs, Alessandro Rabottini and a long conversation between Sterling Ruby and Catherine Taft.
The exhibition and the catalogue will be made in collaboration with the Emi Fontana Gallery, Milan and West of Rome, Los Angeles.
The multitude of media and techniques used by Sterling Ruby in his work – ranging from sculpture to collage, from installation to painting, from ceramics to video and printing – is in keeping with a universe that is equally dense with themes and references inherent to and external to art history. These include conflict between individual impulses and mechanisms of social control, the coercive function of architectonic space, art as the domain of irrationality, the sphere of dysfunctional behavior, Minimalism and Art Brut, Graffiti Art, urban violence, desire and pleasure.
GRID RIPPER is part of a trilogy of exhibitions that confronts the theme of abstraction with respect to bodily perception and the metaphysical dimension of existence. The exhibitions ZEN RIPPER – the second solo show at the Emi Fontana Gallery in Milan from 19 September 2008 – and SPECTRUM RIPPER – at the Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers Gallery in London from 9 October – will complete the trilogy.
At the center of each exhibition lie the concepts of Geometry, Meditation and Colors in relation to the ideas of power, disobedience, aesthetic perfection and eternity.
The title of the exhibition at GAMeC is emblematic of a fundamental aspect of Sterling Ruby’s art, or more specifically of the friction between geometric and rational forms and the expressive and performative impetus. In this sense the sculptures and paintings in the exhibit – that are part of an original project and site specific to GAMeC’s Spazio Zero – seem to be born out of a kind of act of vandalism, that is at once destructive and generating.
The main exhibition space is dominated by two imposing structures made of superposed formica solids: constructions of an ambiguous nature that are somewhere between architecture and sculpture occupy the space like menacing totems with an obscure function. It is difficult to understand whether they were created to defend or imprison, or if they are the abandoned site of pointless violence. Their geometric and almost brutal appearance as domestic ruins is broken up by the marked and gestural use of spray paint, in a frequent echo that Ruby makes to Graffiti Art as an extreme attempt to testify to the existence in the anonymous and alienated horizon of life in modern cities.
Spray paint is also used by the artist to make the paintings in the exhibition: abstract fields of color where the gesture of writing one’s own pseudonym on walls – a gesture often used by urban gangs to stake out a territory and re-vindicate their ownership of it – is transformed within a long tradition of abstract and gestural painting, that ranges from Abstract Expressionism to Informal Art, together with the therapeutic function of art, Outsider Art and the meditative dimension of abstract art.
In these paintings – as in all his art – Ruby seems to take possession of gestures that appear void of any grammatical and formal aesthetics and seem to want to articulate the most secret communication resistant voices and dimensions of human existence using a vocabulary that expresses a high level of knowledge of the history of post World War II art.
Ruby’s is an art that combines the memory of the past with the attention to contemporary urban and popular phenomena. It is an art of expression and accumulation, of the overproduction of information and of the delirium of the senses, of neurosis and paranoia, and where the gigantism of the shapes and their proliferation appear like a corrupt manifestation of desire, consumption, anxiety and the need for control that characterizes contemporary occidental culture.