Impression of graduation project by Ruby Lee
'Logwood', Oil on Canvas
'Logwood', Oil on Canvas

Ruby Lee, uk

They can all hang here, 'Down Among the Women'.

Ruby Lee's work consists of paintings and installations that center around a particular attitude of female expression. Between those observed first hand and those that play out in the media and popular culture. She mounts an archive of once digital visual data tangibly in salon-style installations. Through a female, post-internet, cosmopolitan and privileged lens, the scenes in her figurative paintings acquire an absurd hedonism that both self-deprecates and celebrates.

Enter Through the Gift Shop
Graduation Project

All art is just really expensive merch. All artists are brands. Please buy into mine. We are all capitalists, whether you like it or not. Deal with it. Use it. Everything is for sale. And I refuse to leave here broke.

There are two stages to Ruby Lee's project for the KABK 2021 Graduation show. These are divided into two rooms.

The first room contains four large oil paintings stretched on canvas, that are referred to as the 'master' or 'legend' works. Their compositions came from three ancient volumes entitled: 'The World's Greatest Paintings'.

The second room is an installation with the blended identity of a domestic space and a type of gift shop. Most materials used are found, second hand objects. There is enough junk out there, really, to make work only from the already made. There is too much stuff, I don't need to make more.

'Enter Through the Gift Shop' is a title inspired by the British artist Banksy, who reminds us that just because something is popular, it doesn't make it crass or distasteful, it only means a lot of people like it. This echoes an inclination to 'Kitsch' or overly sentimental art forms. T-shirts with screen-printed renditions of the 'legend' works, mugs with printed images that have been edited to give the impression of sun bleaching. Making this mimiced merchandise for the 'white cube' type room (or rather, pink cube), gives them the authority of the ‘World’s Greatest Paintings’, and their aura is diminished into cheaper yet more accessible artefacts. In the context of an art exhibition, 50 cent kitchenware and pieces of fast fashion are turned into something more like treasure - into artworks. Power is exerted on the material by playing with its value.

The deliberate merging of the commercial gift shop environment into a domestic space is important. The capitalist society we are a part of has successfully blurred the lines between our homes and our stores, to a point where we cannot clearly see the line that separates the two. The familiar environment of your Grandmother’s house, with it's tea-towel renditions of Van Gogh's Sunflowers, or a toilet seat Mona Lisa, might have been the first place you encountered a piece of art you were later informed was 'legendary', and even later, worth millions.

'The Circle of Ugliness' - An examination into Lea Grundig’s print series, Woman’s Lives (1934-1941) Discussing Lea Grundig’s work in relation to the female experience of Weimar Germany and the position for female artists within Gustav. F Hartlaub’s definition of New Objectivity

A study into two female, German, artists; Kathe Kollwitz and Lea Grundig, and their position within the movement of 'New Objectvity' as women and how they were overlooked by art historians. The surreal and distopic is met by the actuallity of a macabre, traumatised and war-torn society. The thesis uses the oppression felt by Grundig and Kollwitz to explain a wider misogonist view-point and resistance to aspects of their work that deserve the recognition I hoped to give in my writings. Relating to my own artistic context and frustrations towards an ignorance and oversight of works with a certain type of sentimentality that is still considered 'female', and therefore inferior.