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Portland Art Museum Exhibits Ed Ruscha's Diptychs Azteca and Azteca in Decline
Edward Ruscha, Azteca /Azteca in Decline, 2007, Acrylic on canvas, Diptych, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. ©Ed Ruscha.

PORTLAND, OR.- Ed Ruscha is among the most innovative and influential artists of his generation. Since the 1960s, he has used language and popular imagery drawn from American highways and cities. Often startlingly cinematic in image and format, Ruscha’s work has defined an important branch of conceptual art practice on the West Coast and is characterized by a sly humor and virtuosic trompe l’oeil technique.

The exhibition showcases the diptych Azteca and Azteca in Decline, each 4 x 27.5 feet. Inspired by a roadside wall in Mexico, the diptych exemplifies Ruscha’s continuing fascination with the relationship between then and now, before and after. He first explored these ideas in the 10-painting cycle, Course of Empire, exhibited at the 2005 Venice Biennale. Located on the cusp between realism and abstraction, invention and representation, the works feature the found three-part motif from the wall in Mexico faithfully reproduced and then collapsing onto itself. In the accelerated, aged version of the ambiguous colored shapes, Ruscha posits a historical progression, imagining what became of the same site over time. The ambiguity of whether the white wall is represented or the actual ground of the painting is weathered and worn presents a perceptual and conceptual ambiguity that heralds a fresh direction in his production.

Ed Ruscha exhibits internationally and his work is included in numerous museum collections. The Museum wishes to thank the Broad Art Foundation for their generous cooperation in making works available for this exhibition.

This exhibition is the ninth in an ongoing series of contemporary art exhibitions organized by Bruce Guenther, Chief Curator, and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and is supported in part by the Miller Meigs Endowment for the Contemporary Arts.

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