Israeli artist Gideon Rubin presents twenty-two new paintings and his first video animation in his second solo show in New York.
This new body of work-
originating from early twentieth-century found photographs-shows figures on the shoreline, capturing private moments of a family on holiday. They are intimate and serene images that belie darker events on the horizon. Rubin’s obsession with old European family photo albums derives from his own lost history as a result of the Holocaust, as well as an effort to reclaim his European heritage.
Rubin’s first animated video, ‘To Change Air a Little,’ was inspired by Chaim Nachman Bialik, Israel’s national poet. The work refers to Bialik’s fondness for long walks and captures the meditative aspect of this solitary practice.
Rubin’s paintings are dichotomous. With their lovingly rendered subjects, the paintings are intimate and unapologetically nostalgic. But the work is not sentimental. Viewing these paintings might be a voyeuristic experience, but instead there’s a sense of familiarity. It’s like the memory of something that’s at the point of fading completely, or remembering a history that you were told about but never actually experienced first hand. Though these are another family’s pictures, they might have been your own. The insignificant moments represented are the stuff of collective memory – the minutiae that make up the meaningful part of our lives.
Austere and elemental, the palate is subdued, subtle, seemingly faded. Forms are reduced to a few sure brushstrokes that suggest rather than describe a figure or landscape. Identifying facial features are lost, rendered in a swirl or smudge of paint. Areas of the picture have had the paint scraped away or have never had pigment applied to the raw, natural-colored linen. Yet for works of such compositional economy, they luxuriate in the sensuality of oil paint. Rubin’s brushwork – energetic, thick and three-dimensional – is frankly joyful.
Gideon Rubin was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and lives in London. He received his MFA from Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London. His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in New York, Tel Aviv, London, San Francisco and throughout Europe.