The Magical Worlds of Tara Donovan and Sterling Ruby

June 19, 2014

If you want to feel as Alice did when she fell down the rabbit hole, experience the installations of Tara Donovan and Sterling Ruby. Both artists create larger-than-life works, of all media, that allow you to momentarily escape this world and enter another.

Tara Donovan hypnotizes you by the sheer scale of her work. For her sculptures, she takes a simple, everyday, material – pencil, button, styrofoam cup, tape – and then multiplies the quantity by, like, a million. With the abundance she stacks and compiles until the accumulation of identical objects is transformed into something biomorphic.

These materials aren’t so much disguised by her process, but combined in a way that allows their simpleness to guide the structure’s formation. For her current exhibition at Pace Gallery, Donovan has two installations: one, a mountainous range of stalagmites made entirely of 3×5″ index cards, and the other a shimmery anemone of clear plastic rods.  Up close you can definitely tell you’re looking at stacks of index cards (the likes of which I still have leftover from school) but from afar they meld together into a giant topography of forms that grew out of Donovan’s studio floor. The clear acrylic rods remind me of those things that come in new shoes to keep their shape. A pretty boring widget, really. But once amassed into these orbs, they come alive as sparkling organisms that appear to expand and contract in the gallery.
L1000263L1000264L1000283 2

Sterling Ruby is the LA-based rock star artist whose work appears in the collections of pretty much every mega-collector. His inspirations run the gamut from Minimalism to graffiti, politics to psychology. He is recognized for his monumental sculptures created by pouring urethane, like the drippy red Pillars, 2014, you see above. You might also recall my mentioning his Basin Theology ceramic works that were in the Whitney Biennial, compilations of studio scraps that get fired together in the kiln and glazed. And then there’s everything else he does – paintings, dyed and bleached fabrics, hanging mobiles, cardboard collages, coffins made of bronze, you name it. He’s even collaborated with designer Raf Simons for his menswear collections (Images here).
For SUNRISE SUNSET at Hauser & Wirth, Ruby exhibits his adeptness in scale and materiality. All of his works orbit around the cycle of beginnings, ends, sunups, sundowns, a sense of perpetual confinement to our world. His 10×12′ spray paintings, SP275(1) and SP275 (2), below, stand in as hazy horizon lines while the hanging circular mobile, Scale/Bats, Blocks, Drops (4837), 2014, becomes the sun, moon, and stars. While Ruby’s bold colors, giant-sized objects, and patriotic tie-dye do have a whimsical air about them, his works aren’t necessarily happy-go-lucky. Big Yellow Mama, 2013, the huge neon yellow chair, is a replica of the electric chair used in Alabama until 2003 and a reminder of what could happen to you (in some states) if you really fuck up. Ruby is, after all, American and he shows us through his work that between every sunrise and sunset we live, we orbit, we do, we make, we build, we collect, and then one day we die.
These two fabulous exhibitions are about climbing into an artist’s mind, looking at the ubiquitous, and finding something transformative and magical. Cool your heels this summer and check them out!


Leave a Comment

Theme by Blogmilk + Coded by Brandi Bernoskie