This episode of Gagosian Premieres celebrates Ed Ruscha’s exhibition at Gagosian New York with musicians Flea, Missy Mazzoli, Vernon Reid, and Eddie Ruscha and new music created in response to the work.
Since the 1960s, Ruscha has created a distinctive and ever-expanding lexicon of symbols, images, and words drawn from American vernacular culture. In his new paintings, rendered with great delicacy and detail in eccentric formats, he revisits the leitmotifs of the flag, the tire, and the mountain.
The banner in RIPPLING FLAG (2020) unfurls past the frame in a form that creates twisted shapes and shadows over its red and white stripes. Hardscrabble (2020) depicts a “gator,” or shredded tire tread, hovering enigmatically over a barren landscape. And in Mountains (2020) archetypal snowy ranges are meticulously rendered but with one peak inverted so that it appears to descend from the sky.
In the episode, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea meets with Ruscha’s son Eddie in the artist’s Los Angeles studio to discuss this new body of work, exploring its emotional resonance and the power of its familiar symbolism to affect viewers in vastly different ways at different points in time. Tim Griffin, director of the Kitchen, describes the challenges faced by avant-garde artists and creative institutions under the current global health crisis, and introduces two musical performances staged within the space of the New York exhibition.
Composer and pianist Missy Mazzoli plays The Night Ahead and No Real Fate—a composition she wrote for piano four hands and, poignantly, adapted here for a solo performer in light of current social distancing. Living Colour guitarist and songwriter Vernon Reid performs the blues standard Trouble in Mindand Entanglement One, a loop-based improvisation responding to Ruscha’s paintings during a shared moment of crisis and hope.