SC Gallery
Zagreb, 2013

Everything that can be viewed in this, primarily sculpture exhibition, has one feature in common: it has been painted the same colour. A colour that is not a colour: it is a gray colour, or, to be more precise, fifty percent gray, right in the middle between black and white. Position of the colour in the centre of the scale from 0 to 100 (or, from 100 to 0) corresponds to the content of the sculptures in regard to the portion of the real and unreal, which is also being the fifty-fifty ratio. This is mostly visible in the sculpture ‘Burning Chair’ – on a gray-painted chair there is a gray-painted fire flame image cast in polyester – one half of the total volume is a chair, the second half is a fire image. Naturally, such a precise ratio is impossible to maintain in other sculptures, it will even be irrational to expect it so, but in general, all his sculptures aim to have it. The only escapade from this one-colour uniformity is the light that in the semi-darkened gallery space has a strong scenographic and I would say almost a screenwriter’s role. The narrative use of a scenographic element is particularly evident in the sculpture ‘Table with Hills’, which is lit by a light coming from a typical table lamp, transforming the sculpture into a desk table. The fact that the lamp is on evokes the idea that the table is designed for night work (or in the cellar), that is to say, for the circumstances that are caricaturally suitable and perhaps even self-ironical given the author and his kind of work.  The table is, of course, a real one, while the hills a top of it are the content of that work, the materialization of the author’s imagination. The hills are reminiscent of desert dunes, the association of which is supported by half-opened drawers filled with gray polyester resin (sand as a construction material of what is on the table.)

Caught in a specific situation, the audience contemplates further scenario: in an early-morning hour, the author straddles a chair and listens. There is no noise. There is no command. He sits in the middle of an empty room observing the parquet. Suddenly, he shouts: ‘Go on!’ to some mountain pass. Then he hears shouting of people in some paths shouting. Then people emerge.

The experience is further enhanced by a somewhat absurd base on which the table is placed on: it is not parquet, it is a star-shaped platform elevated from the floor, on which the table could fly away, and if my assumption is correct, it already has.

The idea of departure, of travelling, of passing through, or, moving in general, is present almost in all of the exhibited works, as well as in the title of the exhibition itself. Thus, the legs (not typically human legs) carry not the torso, but a factory with a continuous mimicry of a sewing machine. The factory’s interior is illuminated with a cold and perpetual neon light.

Then, there is a segment of a hill’s slope, placed on a prop whose pedestal is a car wheel. On a slope there is a billboard advertising a banana. A small reflector beneath the billboard, both on the top of the sculpture, illuminates the banana. By illuminating the banana, it does not only caricature the situation of placing a three-dimensional commercial into a natural environment, but it also produces the board’s ominously magnified black shade out of which the banana peeks from the gallery wall. Somehow, this links the content of the exhibit with the gallery context, or, to be more precisely, it suggests the intertwinement of the author’s interpretation of the appearance of the absurd intruder and our current reality.

The open suitcase also has an unusual, almost abstract content. In an attempt to explain it, we could call it mountains with tops cut off, and the grid instead of peaks indicates that beneath it there is a huge mechanical constellation.

‘He plays, I dance’ is the title of the installation in which it is hard to comprehend the real sense, but it manages to synchronously stimulate both the sensation of the surreal uneasiness and a smile. Because, no matter how much within that dark and opaque, and most probably gray, curtain, something undefined moves and crackles evoking fear by its being non-defined, in the same time that fear is placed in a humorous context. The author’s approach was to caricature the stereotyped provocation of that feeling: on a tower resembling a power transmission line, a branch is attached; at the end of the branch hangs the a.m. curtain; behind the curtain there is a movement, like there is a cat trapped inside or, even worse, a bird, all in one: movement’s detention.  

Ruf’s interpretation of walking spaces manifested in an audio-visual installation placed in an isolated part of the gallery. It consists of the sculpture ‘Bear Lion’ – an over-dimensional (not quite human) leg and a projection of a video recording of the author’s performance. The sculpture is placed between the audience and the projection of the legs.  In the place of a torso, there is the author himself, the author as a performer. The caricature of the perspective is achieved by re-using the legs and by the author’s distancing from the projected legs. By doing it so, his silhouette becomes reduced in regard to the natural size of the sculpture. By reducing himself, he demystifies the procedure of exhibiting. The act of conquering the next active ludic dimension in the set up expressive space represents the double use of the sculpture ‘Bear Lion’ (as a sculpture and as a part of a projection) as a stage where a vocal-instrumental interpretation is performed. He starts the performance by playing a guitar, a short, simple rhythmic part that repeats itself over and over like a meditative mantra or a litany. Then follows demystification: the guitar playing is not being interrupted, although the performer puts it aside, lits a cigarette and drinks a bear. The repetitive instrumental becomes a somewhat silenced soundtrack of the happening that is not there and that lasts only a couple of minutes before he again takes the guitar. It is not important if he plays for real or not, the sound from the background comes into the foreground and the convincing vocal interpretation of ‘Ruf the Sculptor’ begins.  

I have a house/that is in a street/that in a town/that is in a county/that is in a country/that in a continent/that is in the World/that is in the Universe/and then, there is nothing else.

Is there a movement or not? The starting point is precisely located and, I would say, completely motionless. In the end, the conclusion is irrefutable fact: there is no further possibility of moving because there is no further location to move to. Have we been somewhere? Or are we constantly moving without even starting to move? In a suitcase we carry mountains underneath which civilisations are rumbling, animal legs like seven miles boots are purporting a factory, a map on a table is lifted into the third dimension, there is a fire on a chair, a bird in a curtain…  

And it is not about the reminiscence of a boy’s imagination. On the contrary, that imagination, or more precisely, the perspective that bases itself on it and is using it as the key lever of the performance, becomes a conceptual framework, because the imagination is the only one that provides possibilities of philosophical answers to the fundamental questions for which there are no answers at all.

By an absurd linking, the author has achieved the content whose base is a unique combination of reality and his personal interpretation of that reality. By employing the concreteness, the pretentiousness as a classic suit of general questions has been eliminated. They have been pushed into the background.  They became casual companions, something that we care of without being directly involved. Therefore, the Ruf’s fifty-percent gray stay in walking spaces may be interpreted as a media incarnation or as the opening of a wavelength in which the real and the surreal are communicating on the same level. Or, as Camus says in the end of his ‘Mediterranean Thought’, the communication is between dreams and tradition, between eternal boyhood and masculine power, between history and nature.