Employing diverse aesthetic strategies and mediums—including sculpture, drawing, collage, ceramics, painting, video, and even fashion design—Sterling Ruby (b. 1972) examines the tensions between fluidity and stasis, Expressionism and Minimalism, the abject and the pristine. In a recent body of sculptures entitled SKULLS, which includes the present work, Ruby produced a set of oversize skulls augmented with vibrantly colored wigs, bulging eyes, and bared teeth that are reminiscent of mythological apotropaic creatures, Hannya masks used in Japanese Noh theater, and science-fiction monsters. Based on the structural armatures used by special effects designers to create the fantastic animals featured in Hollywood films, these sculptures are at once darkly humorous and staggeringly unsettling. In SKULL (6985) (2018), reptilian ice-blue eyes, a splotchy deep-pink surface that suggests an acidic decay of skin and bone, and a stark white wig made from yarn all work together to generate a beastly character of otherworldly dimensions that elicits a visceral response from the viewer.
Photo: Melanie Schiff