Sterling Ruby - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Sunday, June 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Brussels, Xavier Hufkens, Sterling Ruby: Paintings, 24 February-9 April 2011
    Paris, La Réserve, Voir est une Fable, 22 October-27 October 2013
    London, Inigo Philbrick, Spray, Memory: Sterling Ruby & Mike Kelley, 25 May-31 July 2015

  • Catalogue Essay

    SP 138, is a hallucinogenic, elusive, and enigmatic example of aerosol art that reads similarly to a colour field painting. Yet, it reveals the historical layers, nomadic existence, and transversal disposition of street art. Sterling Ruby employs a hybrid visual language of social structures combined with that of marginalized groups, prison systems, modernist architecture, artefacts, memorabilia, weapons of war, cults, and urban gangs to articulate issues around violence and autobiographical experiences. In this manner, the work adopts a jagged visual range that is at once fragmented and cohesive. Ruby’s style freely oscillates between minimalism and expressionism, immobility and movement, purity and saturation. Ruby challenges notions surrounding graffiti art and vandalism in order to delineate the struggle between authorities and minorities. Through his work, the defiant act of tagging is transformed into something painterly and sublime. ‘The desire to make paintings,’ explained the artist ‘was an absolute reaction to seeing graffiti and territorial disputes. I found it almost impossible to ignore my generations continued struggle to make a meaningful painting. I like to think that I have found a way to make spray paint abstract.’ (Y. Cheung, Q+A with Sterling Ruby, Gagosian Gallery, 4 September 2014). Thus, Ruby’s technique involves philosophical inquiry as much as material investigation. In fact, Ruby’s work is often associated with post-humanism, which refers to a society which—through technology—has evolved beyond the boundaries and predetermined notions about human nature; it no longer subscribes to the world view that man is the measure of all things. ‘I think of the post-human as the end result of being overwhelmed by our own history, theories, and politics' stated the artist, 'my work reflects the paranoia or schizophrenia of that contemporary conditioning.’ (Brienne Walsh, The Survivalist: Q+A with Sterling Ruby, Art in America, 18 March 2011)

    Originally exhibited during Paintings at Xavier Hufkens Gallery in Brussels in 2011, this work stands out amongst the other eleven exhibited because of the delicate complexity of the colour scheme juxtaposed with the voracious all-consuming void of black. The mysterious and compelling elements of these works served as the inspiration for Raf Simons when creating fabrics to be used for the Christian Dior Couture collection in 2012. The appropriation of Ruby’s visual language into haute-couture further signifies the cultural ramifications and influence that his work has, as well as, signifies the journey that street art has undertaken over the past few decades. SP138 is a prime example of the aspects, techniques, methodologies, and theoretical approach of Ruby’s practice that have captivated a wide audience pronouncing him ‘one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century.’ (Roberta Smith, Art in Review, New York Times, 21 March 2008).



spray paint on canvas
243.8 x 213.4 cm (96 x 84 in.)
Initialled, titled and dated 'SR "SP138" 10' on the reverse.

£300,000 - 500,000 

Sold for £263,000

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2016