The Lapis Press is pleased to announce Rust + You (Rust plus You), our first solo exhibition with Los Angeles artist Ruben Ochoa. Over the last decade, Ruben has built a career exploring the possibilities of everyday materials, using concrete, steel, and the actual floors and foundations of gallery spaces to produce works that disrupt the viewer’s experience of the built environment. While sculpture continues to be at the center of Ruben’s practice, over the last two years he has been increasingly interested in how this material play can translate into two-dimensional works. Rust + You presents a series of recent paintings made from rust and acrylic on linen alongside works on paper, his Steel Life Porcelana Lapis edition coupled with his rebar drawings, and several floor sculptures.
While 2014 brought us our first edition project with Ruben, we have been following his work for well over a decade. His considered approach to materials, ideas and his practice manifests in a powerful creative force that poses important questions in a manner both serious and playful. This exhibition was conceived to complement Ruben’s tour de force at Art + Practice in Liemert Park, Los Angeles. That exhibition looks at Ruben’s practice for the past 10 years that provided the foundation upon which this selection of works was conceived. Focusing mainly on his recent paintings, we imagine this presentation as a way to enjoy a broader meditation on his new works with a selection of some of our favorites for context.
Approaching rust as a pigment first and foremost, the artist produces lively compositions that take full advantage of the unpredictable nature of this medium. Iron oxide, that striking russet color, is the bane of iron and steel. Its effect on the canvas call to mind the visible deterioration of the built environment; a byproduct of an innocuous substance that indicates class boundaries within a city. A rust stain on a city sidewalk, no matter how carefully composed, would be considered just that – a stain. In the hands of Ruben, oxidation is recognized as a powerful elemental force of nature; a force harnessed and guided through his capable hands and practice. This series of paintings and selection of drawings strike a perfect balance between the uncertainties of the oxidation process with Ruben’s deep respect for and mastery of his materials.
Lapis is very pleased to include Ruben’s Lapis edition Steel Life Porcelana within the context of these more recent works. In this setting, the rust featured on the canvas is echoed in the tie wire, so beautifully contrasted against the creamy porcelain. We are fortunate to be able to include one of Ruben’s latest rebar drawings (2016), pulling these works together for the first time. The inclusion of Ruben’s L.A. Riots in the Age of Minecraft (re)building blocks punctuates the installation with a sense of whimsy that belies the seriousness of their inspiration. Here Ruben comments on the inability – or unwillingness - of our society to fix what’s broken, to repair the damage wrought during the riots in 1992 (21 years prior to the creation of this work) … to right the wrongs.
Through it all Ruben invites us to ponder and reflect some of these bigger issues, but with a playfulness that makes the effort so much easier to bear. We look forward to welcoming you to Lapis to enjoy this special look into Ruben’s practice.