The work in this show teases and tantalises. In short, it is a tangle of beguiling uncertainties.
Tangles of Uncertainty 2015 Silk saris
It is almost impossible for an artist to trace all the influences that have fed into the work. Some influences are more apparent, but some can be as fleeting as an overheard conversation in a bus, or a paragraph in a newspaper – not consciously remembered, but left in the subconscious to enrich and inform.
When asked to explain the work, artists will pick out some choice sources of inspiration to present to their audience, which in turn will somehow shed light on the meaning of the work. However, for an artist, this is always unsatisfactory, as it leads to a singular way of reading the work, excluding more individual reactions and understandings.
So where does Ruth Dupré find inspiration? She normally alludes to dance when asked this question. In this present show, though, she also shows her interest in forces that are outside ourselves; and of those forces, Nature is the most evident, in all her manipulative guises. She allures, attracts and repels, inviting us to indulge and desire, but at our own risk (think, for example, of how a moth will circle a light bulb until it is frazzled to death by it).
She often makes work that alludes to organic forms; she wants us to respond to the work as something alive, and yet the individual sculptures and drawings are so obviously inanimate and cold. But is it not also true that in 1953 Crick and Watson showed us that living material is not fundamentally distinct from non- living material so there is not quite such a distance as we might imagine?
How does an artist wrest order from the exhilarating chaos of the natural world around them? Ruth Dupré uses a range of materials - glass, ceramic, bronze, paint, wood, fabric, rubber and cement, along with drawing and printing. She makes references to organic forms, and establishes deft connections between organs, body parts and forms found in nature. She then tangles them in her web. The sculpture 'St Sebastian', for example, illustrates the story of the saint, but it also makes reference to other images of St Sebastian that the artist has seen. It’s impossible to untangle all these layers of reference.
What does seem certain is that there is more than a hint of sexual promise hidden behind the saintly pose. And it is all the more interesting for being understated. Nature is the same: she hides her blushes behind all that beauty. How erotic is the posturing of a flower? Where the bee sucks…
Ruth Dupré understands all this. She makes rubber flowers which have a visceral or primal pull. They inhabit the privacy of the boudoir, as well as the sombre public space of the graveside or the mausoleum.
Multi-media artist Ruth Dupre has won the Bombay Sapphire Award for glass and the Royal Academy's Jack Goldhill Prize for sculpture.
Inconsequential Deaths 2015 Rubber, concrete, bamboo, gold leaf, Brazilian seeds, pearls
Epanouissement 2015 Monoprint on Japanese paper 23x15cms