October 9–November 15, 2008
Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are delighted to announce SPECTRUM RIPPER, the first UK solo exhibition of Los Angeles-based artist Sterling Ruby. Ruby speaks for a generation of artists who seek to re-inscribe the experience of physicality, sexuality and death into minimalist art. SPECTRUM RIPPER is the last of a three-part Ripper trilogy, which began in September 2008 with ZEN RIPPER at Galleria Emi Fontana in Milan and GRID RIPPER at GAMeC in Bergamo. Based on US vernacular, the RIPPER series is concerned with the deconstruction (“ripping”) of modernist tropes, such as “the grid” as the ultimate harmonious geometry, “Zen” as a religion-cum-interior design movement, and the color spectrum as a trope for the metaphysical.
In the main gallery space Ruby has installed a pair of large paintings and two sculptures made from Formica and covered with industrial spray paint. The gritty urban aesthetic of these materials contrasts with the minimalist form of the works. The combination of contemporary street graffiti and modern sculpture allows Ruby to question the canonical position and alleged lack of subject matter of American minimalist art, as espoused by Donald Judd. Fascinated by prison architecture and banal urban design, such as the humble bus stop, Ruby argues that minimalism has in fact always been inherently political. It was in fact Ruby’s move from Chicago to LA in 2003 that marked a shift in his practice: Ruby made the link between the demarcation of an art movement and the tags of LA’s street gangs. As a mode of territorialization street graffiti became an important inspiration for Ruby.