Sterling Ruby - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Sprüth Magers, London
    Lindon Gallery, London
    Inigo Philbrick, London
    Private Collection, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    'My work evolved from looking at graffiti, vandalism, the violence of tags in the streets and other forms of visual aggression, but as is more and more the case in my work, my painting has become more formal, more abstract... I think of it in terms of space, depth, punctuation or colour, as I imagine artists have been doing for centuries.' (S. Ruby in conversation with J. Sans, ‘Schizophrenic Monuments’, L’Officiel Art, March-May 2013, p. 102).

    Executed with spray paint on canvas, SP119 2010 is a symbol of the urban surroundings from which Sterling Ruby’s artistic practice finds its origin and inspiration. By using a medium so closely connected with vandalism and graffiti and using it to develop unique compositions, Sterling Ruby has fused low and high art and has created a potent socio-political discussion on the problem of vandalism. In places like Los Angeles and Brooklyn, graffiti symbolised the powerful struggle of minorities to establish their territorial authority. In this respect, Ruby has emerged as a highly influential pioneer in a young group of artists, which include Christopher Wool, Rudolf Stingel, Wade Guyton and Mike Kelley (who had previously collaborated with Ruby).

    The present lot also recalls the abstract tradition of Mark Rothko, whose hypnotising blocks of paint invite the viewers into profound contemplation. As in Rothko’s Untitled (Black on Grey) from 1970, SP119 is supported by a black luminescence through which different shades of blue, pink, green and white emerge. Like a stormy seascape rolling in, where the colours of a bright sky are interrupted by a bounding storm cloud, the dichotomy of two moments are captured at once. Similarly, SP119 presents a fascinating union of these two states. Variations of black ink obscure the blurred hues of green and pink. The union of different colours on a black background lends the work an overall visual cohesion, but a closer inspection reveals several variations of colour, which evoke a hazy, distant landscape, blurred by layers of spray paint. These strokes of paint pervade the work not only with a delicate sfumato effect, but also with a sense of immediacy that characterises street art. Ruby is constantly analysing the dialogue between urban and contemporary art: living in Los Angeles, he reflects on the struggles between minorities and authorities, which has now become the core of his oeuvre.

Ο ◆8


spray paint on canvas
243.8 x 213.4 cm (95 7/8 x 84 in.)
Initialled, titled and dated 'SR "SP119" 10' on the reverse.

£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £482,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm