Todd Merrill Studio began representing Brooklyn based artist Stefan Rurak in 2019. Stefan Rurak’s furniture defies conventional boundaries – merging fine art aesthetics, modern conceptual design, and traditional, hand-made craftsmanship techniques. His evocative, one-of-a-kind works are the type of collectible pieces built to span generations. Working with a variety of materials – wood, cast concrete, and steel – Rurak draws no distinction between art and design – the utilitarian becoming a canvas for his aesthetic endeavor. Each piece conveys movement, action, and intuition, providing a stark counterpoint to the meticulous construction and composition of the functional skeleton underneath.
Rurak’s unique aesthetic and process stems from a diverse range of media, ranging from things as conventional as drawing and painting to performance art. “The work is largely process oriented, he states, “Increasingly I became aware that the mediums I was drawn to, such as silkscreen printing and film photography were really a pursuit of a craft that relied on a skillset as well as a system of tools.”
Visually, the work marries elements of minimalism and abstract expressionism. Flat planes of hand-patinated steel read as moody takes on color field painting with areas populated with splashes and stains before being finished with oil and buffed wax. Applied pigmented concrete is often built up to create texture somewhere between collage and assemblage. Throughout each piece is evidence of the artist at work. A cast concrete drawer face or a cabinet’s surface may be punctuated with mark-making clearly bearing the hand of the artist.
The smooth steel plates that act as screens are often uniquely hand-etched as a quasi-signature. The etched drawings that are regularly repeated in his work have no meaning but rather exist as a language of symbols personal to Rurak. “Simply put these are shapes, lines and gestures that make me feel good. I do not decide the drawings before I apply them to the steel. This is an extremely high-stakes process. After countless hours constructing the cabinet, meticulously finishing it, the very last step is taking an angle grinder and drawing into the face.”
This intuitive action and the tension it creates is charged with consequences. It is here that Rurak’s confidence is particularly evident as any slip or mistake will be permanently reflected in the steel.
Rurak’s work has found a strong audience with collectors and designers, and has been featured in LUXE Magazine, Interior Design, Architectural Digest, Elle Decoration, Interiors Magazine, and New York Cottages and Gardens.