Last night we attended the opening of Sterling Ruby‘s debut show EXHM (stands for “exhumation) at Hauser & Wirth gallery Savile Row, London. The completely packed exhibition was truly amazing: monumental, fresh, with a dark sense of humor and into-your-face. Ruby presents pieces in various media: his signature shiny, dripping urethane sculptures; bleached canvases with torn rugs glued on them; impressive cardboard collages made out of various residues from the artist’s studio; series of fabric installations; and large-scale ceramic sculptures titled “Basin Technology”.
(You can read in detail about the exhibited works in the gallery’s press release).

Here are some snapshots from the opening – but we’ll be back for more.

The artist’s background and influence is as intriguing as his work: Ruby was born on an American military base in Germany to a Dutch mother and an American father and family relocated to the US shortly after his birth. After attending high school, he worked in construction, was a professional skateboarder and played in several punk bands. He eventually went on to study art, first at the unaccredited Pennsylvania School of Art and Design, followed by BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MFA at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California (where he was a teaching assistant to Mike Kelley). He now lives in LA.

His various influences include aberrant psychologies (particularly schizophrenia and paranoia), urban gangs and graffiti, hip-hop culture, craft, punk, masculinity, violence, public art, prisons, globalization, American domination and decline, waste and consumption as well as the author and psychologist Robert Jay Lifton, social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling (authors of the broken window theory”, cultural anthropologist Lorna Rhodes (author of Total Confinement: Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison), and the novelists Joyce Carol Oates and Harry Crews.

Ruby practice spans various media from sculpture, painting, drawing, collage, ceramics to photography, video and performance. His works are rough and “dirty” (the fabric sculptures at Hauser & Wirth look like they’ve been stepped on numerous times – incl. during the opening), commenting on subject of social pressure, conflicts between the individual and the society, American domination and decline etc.

We’ve seen Ruby’s work couple of years ago at Xavier Hufkens in Brussels and loved it (wish we bough something that time :-/). Now his career explodes, with exhibitions all over the world: apart from London, he has shows planned at the new beautiful Kukje Gallery pavilion in Korea, at MACRO Rome, and – our Belgian followers will be pleased – starting in October at Dhondt-Dhaenens in Deurle.

EXHM runs at Hauser & Wirth Savile Row (both galleries) till May 4th 2013.
Don’t miss it!

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