Sterling Ruby at Taka Ishii Gallery


Los Angeles-based artist Sterling Ruby has a solo-exhibition at Tokyo’s Taka Ishii Gallery which runs until October 4th. The exhibition, “BC RIPS”, which is his second exhibition at Taka Ishii, is a set of large-scale collage paintings that derive their pop-like, formal patterning from the craft of quilt making. They call to mind the utilitarian works of the quilters from Gee’s Bend in Alabama in addition to the worn denim of Japanese Boro textiles.

Using a process similar to creating a Rorschach inkblot, Ruby pours and splatters bleach onto the fold of fabric panels, making negative patterns that resemble explosions or nebulas radiating from the center. In addition, a playful band, or “rip,” of brightly colored fabric bisects each of these works.

Ruby references Andy Warhol’s symmetrical Rorschach paintings, as well as Barnett Newman’s “zips,” as influences. In the BC series of works, bleach splattered remnants and fragments of cloth are affixed to their surfaces with copious amounts of glue that still seep from their edges. The gallery writes that “these beautifully formal paintings vibrate with a meditative energy, traversing creative and destructive forces, and presenting a kind of spatial or existential acid tripping.”

Ruby’s profile as an artist on the global stage has continued to rise in the past few years since art critic Roberta Smith of the New York Times in 2008 called him “one of the most interesting artists to emerge in the twentieth century.” He 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.

Ruby has also made great splashes in the fashion industry this year by teaming up with friend Raf Simons for a series of collaborations for AW14. The Belgian fashion designer who is also head designer of Dior and the American artist combined their respective talents on a standout collection which includes splattered paint, patches, scrawled writing and neon coloring.

More information and access information is available on the Taka Ishii Gallery website.

Written by
Paul McInnes
Courtesy of Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo / Kenji Takahashi