The source of the new paintings are old yearbooks; commemorative annuals that have been abandoned by their owners and collected and amassed by the artist. Black and white images of strangers from the mid-Twentieth Century are translated onto canvases and embedded within the materiality of paint. Within the new paintings Rubin’s now recognizably refined palette of subdued ochre’s, greys and blues offer the figures a sense of shared cadence and time. Placed within increasingly abstracted, empty and ambiguous landscapes, and painted with apparently effortless and unhesitatingly bold brushstrokes, each character draws the attention of the viewers eye as much as their imagination.
Removed from their original context and lifted into another, the full-length figures are transplanted into understated, empty and seemingly continuous space. Time and space conflate in paintings that give equal importance to the brushwork as to the content. What Rubin achieves through unlabored brushstrokes is what he imagines of each figure he carefully selects to observe. The slump of a shoulder, turn of a head or a slight hand gesture communicate a great deal more than the minimal execution should grant.
The paintings scale means they coexist and maintain a direct physical relationship to the viewer, however more often than not the characters turn away from the audience denying us certain information. Painting becomes the subject of these works; the shortcomings of representation, the material restraints as well as the possibilities of the medium.
Included alongside these works is a new animated canvas, which further questions the potential of painting and the artists’ position within its history. A sequence of hundreds of self-portraits, painstakingly created by the artist, are activated with stop frame techniques and projected onto an abstracted landscape painting. The artist depicts himself walking into the landscape and across and through the picture plane, away from the viewer. On a loop the repeated action mirrors the repetition of the process used to create the animation and the cyclical nature of painting and the concerns that painters have returned to throughout history.
Gideon Rubin was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and lives and works in London. Following four years at the School of Visual Arts in New York he continued his education at the Slade, London graduating in 2002. He has had numerous international solo exhibitions and his works are included in private collections in London, Hong Kong, New York, Paris and beyond. Recent group exhibitions include The Mackintosh Museum, Scotland, The Royal Academy of Art, London, Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, Israel and Haifa Museum of Art, Israel. Recent solo exhibitions include Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne and Paris, ROKEBY, London and Beit Bialik, Tel Aviv, Israel.