Issue 46

Ruby Neri


Drawing upon her graffiti background and embracing an intensely personal approach to art-making, Los Angeles-based artist Ruby Neri loosens and eschews the baggage of art history.


On a long white table sits a careful arrangement of objects, flanked on either side by a terracotta-coloured brick and a white goblet. The irregular, chalky surfaces of the objects are echoed in a number of spindly pipes, which resemble discombobulated parts of a three-dimensional bar graph. Another pipe-like form creates a glistening gold eternity symbol next to a white sculpture of a human head with half-lidded eyes. In the centre of this group stands a white ceramic disc scrawled with yellow, atop a glazed blue tower. This talismanic collection offers a telling preface to the rich psychological landscape of Californian artist Ruby Neri.

Neri, who has exhibited since the mid-1990s, has developed a practice rooted in experimentation and a gestural approach to materials. Totemic figures with flat, plate-like faces often take centre stage, their torsos formed from ribbed, wheel-thrown pots with stubby protruding limbs. Raw clay is smeared thickly with oil paint, or subtly splashed with watery ink. The artist’s signature writ large over an entire work forms a colourful graphic device.

Neri is based in Los Angeles but has a strong connection to the Bay Area. Her father, sculptor Manuel Neri, is a noted member of the second generation of the Bay Area Figurative Movement. Neri herself studied in San Francisco and was a prolific graffiti artist before turning her focus more fully to sculpture. She chatted with VAULT about developing a personal relationship with her chosen media and avoiding getting caught... Subscribe to read this article in full

LENNOX STACMIACCA MelbourneMCA Roslyn Oxley Gallery IMA