Ed Ruscha. A Reality Painted

The wide exhibition spaces of the Gagosian Gallery’s Roman branch are holding the solo exhibition of one of the greatest american painters and photographers. Mainly known for his “World Paintings”, Ed Ruscha, pop artist and much more, made landscape’s desolation and deterioration the core of this art, carrying further linguistic connotations. The pictorial representation is given by painted surfaces, almost monochrome, which in recent series have passed from a more minimalist effect to a more detailed portrayal. Hyperrealistic paintings which result from a disarming pictorial precision and lead to a melancholy reflection about these new modern urban sceneries, the ones that take shape at street corners, in the suburbs, in the waste of this consumerist era.












Ed Ruscha chooses clear slogans to focus our attention on these aspects which have been identifying our life as metropolitan animals for ages. His biting and sometimes cryptic selection of words draws on the episodes of accidental ambiguity which are peculiar to the interaction between language and image – the one american slang made extensive use of. The words, inspired by the advertising signs which began to paint the fast foods’ façades and to light the american metropolis’ streets in the years of the economic boom,  stand out from the canvas as a slogan with the same animosity of a political poster.











The paintings of the “Psycho Spaghetti Western” series instead are an interesting novelty for the more neophyte audience because of the absence of words. In this wide series, Ruscha keeps reflecting about the transformation of the landscape in the course of time: from a condition of pure naturalness, to industrialized place, to dry and desolate land. A delicate exercise in perception and memory that the same artist defines “waste and retrieval”. A composing standard feature of this series, apart from the subjects – mainly domestic and industrial waste – is the surface they lay on: always inclined, soft and unrefined, in full contrast with the objects which are represented, well-defined and sharp. This representation by adjacent and opposite planes is a solution Ruscha had already tested in one of his first series. “Standard Station.”  In the “Paintings” exhibition there is a selection of paintings of different series, all realized in the last five years. In fact, the exhibition is a great chance to have a complete idea of Ed Ruscha’s production. Twelve works among watercolour and acrylic paintings which well convey the artist’s imagination from which he has been drawing since the 70′s, despite the recent execution.

Ed Ruscha, Paintings at Gagosian gallery, Roma. November 20, 2014 – January 17, 2015

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by Eleonora Salvi
in Focus on Europe

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