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Sterling Ruby Opens a Window of Exploration at Xavier Hufkens

Brussels’s Xavier Hufkens is presenting Sterling Ruby’s “A Relief Lashed + A Still Pose,” now through August 1. The exhibition follows the artist’s 2018 presentation of WIDW works at the gallery and furthers his continuous exploration of the concept of the window.

Ruby has dissected the idea of a window down to its most basic form—a cross section—and applied it to constructions where elements of sculpture and painting converge. The works are born from Ruby’s commitment to the unadulterated freedom of expression. When considered from a philosophical approach, the dissection of the window proposes endless symbolism, invoking questions like, “What lies beyond?” and “Are we looking inwards?”

Sterling Ruby Sterling Ruby, installation view “A Relief Lashed + a Still Pose” at Xavier Hufkens; photo by Robert Wedemeyer, courtesy of the artist and Xavier Hufkens.

The wood from which the sculptures are made bear characteristics of its past lives, seen in elements like splintered stretcher frames, broken packing crates, and most notably, planks from his mother’s barn—which the artist had delivered to Los Angeles from Pennsylvania after her death in 2014. A palette of deep hues like red, black, and navy is applied with sporadic strokes that give the window-like structures a weathered appearance.

Never discarding anything in his studio, Ruby’s practice is largely built on his constantly growing material archive, which infuses a sense of nostalgia into everything he does. Employing traditional skills like woodworking and quilt-making, Ruby’s creations hold an underlying biographical narrative, with nods back to his childhood and upbringing in rural Pennsylvania.

Sterling Ruby Sterling Ruby, installation view “A Relief Lashed + a Still Pose” at Xavier Hufkens; courtesy of the artist and Xavier Hufkens.

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