Ruby Neri, Paintings

06.26–08.16.2024
Ruby Neri | Ruby Neri, Paintings
Salon 94 89th Street

Like her ceramics, these new paintings playfully reference and subvert traditional art historical tropes of women: pink women, joyous women, brazen women, and free women dominate the canvases, replacing typically male subjects in an exuberant and colorful act of rebellion.

Installation Views

Artwork

Salon 94 is thrilled to present Ruby Neri, Paintings, an exhibition of new work by Los Angeles–based artist Ruby Neri. This is Neri’s third solo exhibition with the gallery and first exclusive exhibition of paintings in New York.

While studying at the San Francisco Art Institute between 1989 and 1994, Neri—alongside her contemporaries Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen, Alicia McCarthy, Rigo 23, and Chris Johanson—began experimenting with street art and graffiti. Later known as the Mission School, the group’s work covered the walls, tunnels, and construction sites of San Francisco’s lively Mission District. Neri, working under the pseudonym Reminisce, quickly became well known for her bold use of sprayed line and signature choice of subject: horses. In a recent interview with Teresa Eggers and Alicia McCarthy, Neri explains being drawn to the subject:

I grew up riding horses as well as drawing them since I was like 5, and because I was too shy to paint them at SFAI, when it came to choosing something to paint over and over again on the street, the idea of a horse came naturally to me. The street allowed a sense of freedom.

Neri’s graffitied horses were widely acclaimed and often left undisturbed by the city. Neri, in the same interview, says, “I remember getting rolled on by a cop, and they'd ask, ‘Oh, what are you painting?’ I'd be like ‘A horse.’ And they literally said, ‘Don't forget to sign it.’ And then drove off. Crazy.” In 1996, Neri left the Bay Area to attend graduate school at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has since been best known for her brazen ceramic sculptures and wall works of fabulous and frantic women typically depicted naked or suggestively undressed.

In the four new paintings in this exhibition, Neri unfurls her signature vessels, reinterpreting her iconic in-the-round tableaux back into two dimensions: “It's action, it's movement; you're moving all the time, it's immediate.” Rendered in a colorful and bright palette of yellows, pinks, blues, and greens similar to her ceramics, these works offer a new dimension to Neri’s ongoing examination of the female form and feminine subjectivity as she directly engages with the weighty tradition and history of painting.

In both Love Match and Roads Well Traveled, Neri reinterprets equestrian portraiture through a feminist lens, replacing traditional male subjects with women—the free, pink, shameless, and high-heeled women of Neri’s world. Their presence in the works unsettles longstanding interpretations typically associated with the genre, hinging as they do on the figures’ emotional lives. In Found, two large figures—mothers standing shoulder-to-shoulder—come across a jubilant cast of small yellow figures that pop out of the ground like flowers. With large, upturned mouths, the pair happily wave to the others as they make their way across the colorful pink landscape.

Ruby Neri (b. 1970) lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Her work has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions, including Funk You Too! Humor and Irreverence in Ceramic Sculpture (2023), Museum of Arts and Design, New York; The Flames: The Age of Ceramics (2021), Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, France; and Alicia McCarthy and Ruby Neri / MATRIX 270 (2018), Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley, CA. Her work is featured in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; de Young Museum, San Francisco; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.