Gideon Rubin is a contemporary Israeli artist based in London. He started painting only at 22 years old when, soon after his military service, he travelled to South America. Since then, as he said, he didn’t find anything that was particularly good at, so when he discovered painting he thought “I’m not letting this go”.
His oeuvres are distinguished by the mindsets of nostalgia, intimacy, sensitiveness and flawlessness. The spectators, who find themselves in front of his artworks, have to create a sort of personal dialogue with the piece of art: seeing the piece of art becomes a reconstruction of a memory that has vanished within the years, as if they have to fill the voids with their own memories.
Gideon Rubin found himself in New York when the tragic facts of September 11th occurred. After seeing this tragedy, he understood he had to share his point of view in a more direct way. He abandoned his observational painting style in order to adopt a straighter method. From then, he started painting old dolls and toy soldiers in a peculiar and new way: only traces of their facial features were left.
Gradually he began painting people again, but becoming much looser and more simplified when inspiration came from anonymous portraits found in photograph albums of early 20th century. As he says:” I loved the anonymity of the subjects. On the one hand, these people had nothing to do with me—unlike my earlier paintings, which were of myself, my family, and my friends; on the other hand, it was as if each of these people was holding a key to a story, a history that I was trying to tap into.”
Rubin selects characters and scenes which he conveys onto canvas or linen. Using broad brushstrokes and a muted palette the figures and landscapes are often abstracted; details are effaced and scenes move in and out of the picture plane. The surfaces of the paintings reveal strata of previous paintings or are scraped back to reveal the canvas beneath, in other instances Rubin leaves entire areas of canvas untouched so that they become integral parts of the work whilst drawing attention to the paintings support. Embedded within layers of paint or receding from view it is as if his selected characters are entrenched in multiple histories or are unrecoverable in the here and now.