STERLING RUBY’s first exhibition at Metro Pictures, Killing the Recondite, is centered around a group of outsized molten polyurethane sculptures. Their blackened, crate-like bases, ceiling grazing height and seam bursting scale, transform the gallery into a densely packed repository for the safekeeping of rescued monuments. Ruby adds a ceramic sculpture, framed collages, digitally-constructed photographs, and a video to define his “recondite” netherworld.
A two-part ceramic work rests on a table high plinth at the entrance to the exhibition; a fragmented torso form and a gold mortar and pestle are spattered and pooled with multiple color glazes. Their seemingly uncontrolled and variegated appearance allude to cataclysmic heat and chemicals, while the luminous gold glaze on the mortar’s rim alternately suggests alchemy. Visually overlapping are two tar-black skeletal towers fused to charred looking bases in liquefied pools. These forlorn, functionally obsolete totems partially screen the doorway to the rear gallery where a mammoth multilevel structure provides the heroic base for two luridly flesh-colored objects. One is a solid, melting stalagmite, the other an enormous webbed circle. Ironically, this forbidding fascist-style monument is based on the form of a table-sized meditation fountain. The intricate molten forms and surfaces of the sculptures are produced by continually dripping fast-drying polyurethane over armatures suspended from the studio ceiling.
Born in 1972, Sterling Ruby graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. In the past year, he participated in the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art and “Red Eye: L.A. Artists,” at the Rubell Collection in Miami. A simultaneous exhibition is at Foxy Production.