Friday 27 August 2021

Sterling Ruby - That My Nails Can Reach Unto Thy Eyes

Are you grown so high in his esteem
Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.

(W. Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, (act 3, scene 2))

That My Nails Can Reach Unto Thy Eyes by Sterling Ruby at the Gagosian Gallery, Athens.

In this new body of work inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Ruby makes allusions to theater, likening the vantage of a window frame to the proscenium. Taking a cue from the play's contrasting settings of judicial ancient Athens and the mystical forest beyond, Ruby bisects each canvas vertically with a strip of painted cardboard, introducing a pillar-like barrier that bright pigments rebound against or cower behind.

Featuring dynamic bursts of pink, teal, white and gold, his paintings evoke the fertile yet impermanent aura of springtime. Opposing realms - order and chaos, love and violence, civilisation and wilderness - are key to his works, which dwell in moments of transformation. Exploring the liminal space between these dichotomies, Ruby taps into the loss of self that occurs when the identities and innermost desires of the play's protagonists become enmeshed within a collective subconscious.

(acrylic, oil, elastic and cardboard on canvas)


looking closer


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