Sterling Ruby - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 13, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    'My studio [in Los Angeles] was in Hazard Park, where the Avenues and MS13 gangs were fighting over drugs and territory. Their disputes were visually apparent through massive amounts of tagging. The city responded by sending out their anti-graffiti teams during the night. Power paint sprayers were used to cover up the day's graffiti in a muted wash of either beige or gray. The city did this under the cover of darkness, while the gangs seemed to prefer the vulnerability of the day. One wall in particular seemed to be the primary site for these territorial disputes. By early morning, there would already be four to five rival tags, the markings were still decipherable. By nightfall the individual traces were impossible to break down. The tagging had become abstract. All territorial clashes, aggressive cryptograms, and death threats were nullified into a mass of spray-painted gestures that had become nothing more than atmosphere, their violent disputes transposed into an immense, outdoor, nonrepresentational mural. The city teams would then continue the cycle with a clean slate that evening, and it would start all over the next morning. I started painting again when I saw this' (S. Ruby, quoted in The Painting Factory: Abstraction after Warhol, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2012, p. 190).

    Amongst Sterling Ruby’s most recognisable works lie his vast kaleidoscopic spray-paintings that mark the artist’s furthest experimentations away from the formal and into abstraction. SP60 rendered in 2009, is an exemplar of this series of works, all of which are characterised by a hallucinogenic palette and multi-layered striations that indicate the energetic trail of the artist’s spray can. The overall gritty nature of Ruby’s paintings, generated through his graffiti-style method and strong use of dark tones, conveys an atmosphere evocative of the metropolis. In the present lot, vibrant striations of acrylic spray paint span the length of this horizontal work in a multifaceted ocean of colour only intersected by a pyramidal form that mimics the tonal pattern from the background. Acid greens supersede toxic yellows and clash with dark black bands of paint - the effect of which has been described as containing 'the sublime refinement of Mark Rothko crossed with the anarchic gestures of spray-can graffiti'. (J. Deitch, quoted in The Painting Factory: Abstraction after Warhol, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2012, p. 6).



spray paint on canvas
318 x 470 cm (125 1/4 x 185 in.)
Signed, titled and dated 'SR.08 'SP60'' on the reverse.

£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £482,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 14 October 2015 7pm