A subsequent style, epoch or a trend tends to be a negation of the previous one. And thus, the XX century called the age of ‘-isms’, is the time of experiments, shaping up new intellectual movements and artistic concepts. Alike, in the creation of the artist as a searching individual, there come breakthroughs and discontinuations in the previously adopted assumptions. Such a turning point did not spare the artist Robert Bubel, whose latest works stemming from a long-standing creative pursuit, can be seen in Sandhofer Gallery.
Robert Bubel, in his over 20-year old artistic career, has predominantly drawn inspiration from artistic trends of the second half of the XX century. He had also embraced the experience of Cracow’s coloristic Kapists, including Józef Czapski, to get ultimately fascinated by abstract expressionism. In his paintings, particularly before the year 2011, we can plainly see the influence of the calligraphic, abstract works of Franz Kline and the free expression of the shapeless art of Antoni Tàpies, the master of Art Informel.
Yet, as a mature artist, following the experience of the abstract and sign-presentation, Bubel turned towards traditional figuration. In his portfolio of the period we can find numerous portraits, also nudes and landscapes painted in the succeeding years, in order to get committed in his latest works to the study of human experiences and emotions, relationships of space in architecture, the power of nature.
The current art of Robert Bubel is a merge of figurative and abstract elements. As he asserts himself: “A picture is a surface covered with colours in a specific order. In this regard, each painting is an abstract one for me”. With these patches of colour Bubel creates, however, the compositions of many inner overtones. The evoked play of emotions is built upon gripping pictures of reality, arousing the subjects of ordinary, human matters. On that account we can see boys on bikes, going on concrete plates nearby blocks of flats, a railway station, streets, an underground parking, children playing football on a pitch in wintertime. The reoccurring motives of the street seem like scenes out of the perspective of a driver or an observer who might be standing on an overpass and there above taking photographs of the sunset over the highway, an underground parking observed from a hidey-hole. We feel somehow as voyeurs of these, mostly deserted places, almost discerning someone who intends to emerge from a corner and catch us in flagranti.
The paintings are somehow like scenes caught on a camera – trees in the wind, a street lamp lit in the evening, cloudy sky meaning an approaching storm, changing times of the day and night. They seem to be like pieces of memories, as in case of forgetting the situation context, we get a picture in the mind’s eye – this is the impression we get of the artist’s compositions.
Robert Bubel uses the oil technique on canvas, producing texturally rich painting surface. The essential fragments or these of the greatest emotional load are implemented by rather broad and energetic brush strokes. The paintings are often monochromatic in blue and grey schemes, with a prominent feature of a contrasting colour. The element draws the attention of the spectator, it somehow constitutes the clou of the whole presentation and the story told by the artist, as reflected in the title. This tendency is to be found in the orange colour of the balloon in the work “Before Take-off” or in the red T-shirt of a boy on the bike in the painting of “ Concrete” or the play of light at the crossroads in the painting “Such Nice Clouds, Dad”. The additional expression of the presentation and emotional suspense is facilitated by diagonal compositions. They are meant to embody the dynamic development, e.g. the sky before a storm we envisage to be about to pour with rain.
The whole artistic output of Robert Bubel centres around subjective emotions and arousing emotion in the beholder. The source of inspiration- that is everyday life of experiences, memories, observations, is a starting point towards mutual understanding between the artist and the spectator. The universal, ordinary matters seem credible, the viewer can identify with them, connect and form a relationship with the subject of a work. As the artists claims: “ What we can experience single-handedly and gets explicated by the artist, becomes a common experience”. Hence the titled “ Forgotten Places”, undermined or unnoticed on everyday basis, become a reason for common discussion and contemplation.
“I implement traditional means of painting by preference. I ascertain that the whole artistic tradition constitutes a reference for every painter, though there are the most distinguished references as well. For me it is the heritage of the second half of the XX century. The statement that a painting is a surface covered with patches of colour in a specified order, is still vital in my view. In this regard, each painting is an abstract one for me. And by means of painting which are abstract themselves, I build up my own statement or perhaps a narration.
And I want to speak about ordinary human matters: love, loneliness, split-ups and time passing. And there is also a meta-artistic reflection in it, that is obvious, - it is difficult to acknowledge in the XXI century that a paining sign is devoid of meaningful substance and a painting carries us away to remote spaces, or a painted figure connotes a real character. As for me, the emotional attitude towards the subject matter and statement is more important; and the relationship is a sine qua non of each painting.
Objectivity in art does not exist, our artistic statements are always extremely subjective. And they should be so, for it constitutes their value. That is why I often use expressive gesture, I crop the framework, I use diagonal lines and move the knots of the composition, so that the painting would convey emotional suspense. However, subjectivity and the expression of gesture do not signify that I allow myself to be ’guided’ by the picture. Beginning to work on a painting, I know what I want to say and I say that. And the things which surprise me in the course of work and prompt to solve a problem on canvas, bring out the added value. A painting is for me a creation spread out between an intellectual concept and physical realisation. And the meanings conveyed in this manner, belong exclusively to the realm of artistic statements.
I emphasise the meaning of experience in artistic narration. I understand it in a wide spectrum, it is both an experience, memory and observation. I believe that basing on the value creates common ground for understanding between the artist and the spectator. For I do not think that art should be understood, it rather should be experienced. On that ground, a single experience explicated by an artist, becomes a common experience.”