COLOGNE.- Galerie Karsten Greve Cologne
is presenting a solo exhibition of the artist Gideon Rubin (born 1973 in Tel Aviv) in parallel with the ART COLOGNE art fair. In addition to his paintings depicting people, heads and landscapes, the exhibition also includes works on paper from a period of more than ten creative years, from 2008 to 2019. On display are twelve small-format oil paintings reflecting the characters and style of cinema in the Weimar Republic (1918 1933). The beauty of the films of the period stands in stark contrast to the concurrent historical events and the disastrous cultural developments that followed. The National Socialist assumption of power in 1933 brought an abrupt end to this productivity and the joy of cinematic experimentation. With Warning Shadows, Gideon Rubin takes up the eponymous silent film of 1923. As the title of the exhibition suggests, he traces the influences of silent cinema, which made masterly dramaturgic use of light and shadow.
The first impetus for the Weimar-Series came from an illustrated book about the size of the screens in Weimar-republic cinemas, which he discovered in a London antique shop. This series brings together three important aspects in Gideon Rubins uvre: the central period between the world wars, the media culture of that time and the depiction of characters anchored in cultural memory.
The Cologne exhibition places a further emphasis on Travel Paintings, which emerged from the 2016 artistic exchange project Places of Conflict in China and Israel, in which Gideon Rubin participated. The Xinjiang-Series shows people going about their everyday lives, street scenes, and monuments during a highly explosive political situation in 2016, when passports were collected under the strictest government control in the troubled north-western region of Xinjiang and residents were no longer allowed to travel freely.
Inspired by films and old photographs from family albums, pictures of celebrities and old-master portraits, illustrated magazines, not least impressions of everyday life, Gideon Rubin paints figures which he characteristically reduces. The artist is not interested in the individual. His human images therefore usually have a beige empty spot, a black spot, a gas mask or some other masking in the place where the face ought to be. Through posture and gesture, hairstyle and clothing or a characteristic attribute he depicts a type, a character or a historical personality.
The places where each person is located are hard to identify in the sparingly sketched surroundings. Gideon Rubins work is about memories that have faded over time. The artist uses subdued colours - mostly sandy tones, greyish blues, and eggshell white, which he applies with a painterly style, with sometimes a striking bright red to accentuate a detail. This subtle coloration and the fact that he often reworks his pictures with additional layers hint at his desire to bring something forgotten back to life. As a picture support he uses canvas and natural linen, cardboard or wood, leaving some parts unpainted, so that the ground becomes part of the composition. As a result of the blurring of identifying details and the erasure of physiognomic features, beholders associate the subjects with their own memories and perceptions, especially since restrained gestures, postures, and positions of the characters aim at a déjà-vu effect, encourage those who see them to complete the picture in their own way.