An exhibition of new paints from Ed Ruscha is currently on display at Gagosian Mayfair. Ad it’s a restrained set of works from Ruscha, which works well in the large opens spaces pf the Gagosian galleries.
Most of the paintings on show examine the interplay between words and their meanings. Large canvases in neutral tones hang on the walls, and what catches the eye are the large words stencilled across them – ‘Mile’, ‘Galaxy’ ‘Universe’. And these are huge subjects, huge matters. And can the size of the words ever compare to the size of a galaxy? No, of course not.
And that’s just what Ruscha demonstrates as, as you get closer to these paintings, you realise that there is a succession, a series of words on each painting, that diminish in scale and in significance across the canvas. For ‘Mile’, hidden in the corner of the canvas is ‘Inch; and for ‘Years’, this painting counts down through ‘months’ ‘week’s ‘days and minutes’ through to ‘seconds’, the size of the letters diminishing with every reduction in relative scale of the word.
It’s worth noting that the font used, the typeface, is one of Ruscha’s own – one he affectionately calls ‘Boy Scout utility modern’ – which he’s used before in his Mountain paintings. And there is a group of Mountain paintings in one of the smaller rooms in the Gallery. These too investigate vanishing points as there is a sense of a closing camera aperture in them, liking them with the word paintings elsewhere.
There are fourteen paintings in total on display and though they may not be exciting enough to cross town for, they are elegant and worth reflecting on.
Gagosian Grosvenor Hill, London, to December 17, 2016
All installation photos by me.