16 December 2015
It’s impossible to hear the name of the photographer and painter Ed Ruscha without thinking of Los Angeles, of its alternating areas of asphalt and desert, of the parade of logos and commercial signs along its boulevards, of the hues of color the city takes on in film noir: from To Live and Die in L.A. to Collateral and the more recent Drive. It is to the city of angels that the artist, originally from Nebraska, has devoted much of his career, in an attempt to capture the essence of that “Particular Kind of Heaven” (to cite the title of one of his most famous works, painted in 1983) which Jean Baudrillard, in his essay America, dubbed the “land of the hyperreal”: a place where every image becomes a simulacrum, an aesthetic impression that sums up the metaphysical horizon which, at the age of almost 78, Ruscha has still not tired of investigating. Proof of this comes from the exhibition Metro Mattresses, now on at the Berlin gallery of Sprüth Magers: twelve paintings made from photographs of discarded mattresses taken by Ruscha in the streets of Los Angeles over the years, stripped of their context by the painting and immersed in an empty space that brings out their geometric shapes and their essence. “Things that catch my attention are things that are usually negligible or forgotten, or overlooked or denigrated in some way or another,” Ruscha has declared recently, and his mattresses fit perfectly into this “system of objects”: caught up in his at once tender and laconic gaze, these pieces of wreckage from daily life reveal the soul, imperceptible at first sight, of the custodians of some of the most exclusive forms of intimacy – sleep, dreams, passion, perhaps even death – and become a metaphor for the states of mind that hold sway in a great city of the developed West. As a result of the cycle of production that requires their replacement, mattresses pass from the comfort of the private sphere to a degraded public existence, shamelessly played out before everyone’s eyes.
Ed Ruscha, Metro Mattresses
November 3, 2015 > January 16, 2016