15th October - 19th December 2013
Abstraction/Figuration surveys two distinct bodies of work by American artists Joe Bradley and Sterling Ruby. The exhibition displays examples from Bradley’s iconic ‘Robot’ painting series, alongside Ruby’s enigmatic ‘Alabaster’ works. While starkly different in appearance, these two bodies engage with legacies of Minimalism in different ways. Bradley’s seemingly primitive figurations of monochromatically rendered canvases stand like bathetic monuments to modern painting. The shapes are at once infantile and domineering, reminiscent both of colour-field painting, and the building-block aesthetic of arcade video games.
Sterling Ruby, in turn, has described his 'Alabaster' works as being, ‘so scenic that they represent something that they’re not.’ Superficially atypical of Ruby’s oeuvre, the works share common ground with his ceramics; their monochrome, marbled surfaces seem almost serene in contrast to the frenetic nature of much of his other work. (They are, coincidentally, the only works that aren’t made in Ruby’s studio.) In silver frames, they exude a luxury that is in stark juxtaposition to Bradley’s roughly handled canvases.
Both series are in their own ways concerned with the process by which artworks and artistic movements fail, deteriorate and collapse, while simultaneously questioning formal ideas of aesthetic appeal. The thick, opaque surfaces of the 'Alabasters' attain a chameleon-like quality, reflecting and imbibing their surroundings. Together, the works merge, to display common purpose and a shared, entropic beauty.