Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is pleased to announce our fourth solo exhibition with Los Angeles artist, Ruben Ochoa. Over the last decade Ochoa 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 upset the viewer’s experience of the built environment. While sculpture continues to be at the center of Ochoa’s practice, over the last two years he has been increasingly interested in how this material play can translate into two-dimensional works. For this exhibition Ochoa will present a series of new paintings made from rust and acrylic on linen alongside works on paper and steel floor sculptures.
Ochoa has titled this exhibition “Tripping the Light Fantastick,” a quote from a poem by John Milton. This playful title and liminal space it alludes to is indicative of Ochoa’s melding of serious sculpture and paintings with a silver lining (or in this case, a rust lining). The viewer can almost imagine the painterly rust, which sometimes appears to scatter along the linen-scape like stars hovering in the Milky Way, growing before their eyes.
Approaching rust as a pigment first and foremost, Ochoa 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. In this way, Ochoa’s use of rust abstracts the social while emphasizing its materiality and thus a possibility of its finite cultural significance.
Ochoa has also created several sculptural works in juxtaposition to his new paintings. The first is a series of welded and manipulated sheets of raw steel that integrate geometric planes and organic lines. These sculptures continue Ochoa’s dialog with form and formlessness. They mimic pulled slabs and folded architecture, extending the artist’s exploration of how gestures operate volumetrically in space. Installed alongside a suite of smaller rust works on linen and paper, a second floor sculpture assumes the footprint of a gallery bench. Lounging like a reclining Olympia, the polymorphic sidewalk-esque steel form appears to have been marred by an accordion bend. Ochoa explores the spatial relationship between the viewer and the site by interjecting a humorous ode to the famously voluptuous nude rendered in less accommodating angles in his Olympic Blvd.
In 2014 Ochoa presented his first solo painting exhibition, “Cloudless Day”, at the Wadsworth Atheneum as part of their Matrix program. In 2013 his sculpture, “Flock in Space,” was featured in the “Nasher XCHANGE“ curated by Jeremy Strick at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX. Ochoa’s work has also been featured in solo exhibitions at Locust Projects, Miami, FL; the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, CA; and at SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM. Group exhibitions include “Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbigns from 18060 to Now”, which originated at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA and traveled to the Menil Collection, Houston TX; “The Artist’s Museum: Los Angeles Artists 1980-2010”, at the Geffen Contemporary, MOCA, Los Angeles, CA; “54th Venice Biennale Collateral Event, Future Generation Art Prize @ Venice” Palazzo Papadopoli, Venice, Italy; and the 2008 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. He received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 2008 and is a two-time recipient of the California Community Foundation Fellowship in 2004 and 2013. His work was recently acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.