Coinciding with a touring exhibition of paintings and works on paper, this book is the first monograph on the acclaimed young Israeli painter Gideon Rubin.
After witnessing the events of 9/11 in New York first hand, Rubin turned his back on his realist way of working and embarked on a method that has become his signature style. Taking found images of strangers in twentieth-century family albums, newspapers, and magazines, he begins a process of visual reduction and obliteration that culminates in an eerie and compelling body of work that is at once enticing and poignant, seductive yet sinister. His small and intimate portraits of faceless figures, full of life but empty of expression, are charming and chilling in equal measure. They unsettle and unnerve, yet feel strangely familiar.
His tiny paintings on cardboard of blank-faced models, actors, pop stars, and politicians – from Che Guevara and Dominique Strauss-Kahn to Amy Winehouse and Cheryl Cole – all reduced to a generic equivalence and interchangeability, comment on the ephemeral nature of the news and the newsworthy and the disposability of our celebrity age.
These are works that evoke the selective and transformative processes of memory, but by drawing on Chinese propaganda pamphlets, celebrity magazines, the society pages of newspapers, as well as art history, they also lay bare the shared shorthands through which personality and desire are projected and read. In the age of Instagram and selfies, they remind us that photography, far from an unmediated and direct reflection of reality, is at its core unstable and subject to manipulation, be it in the interests of politics, commerce or diversion.
This exquisite book features high-quality reproductions of dozens of works and numerous photographs of the artist and the studio. Four international writers examine how Rubin both challenges and extends the traditions of European painted portraiture. They also consider how he employs the ancient and articulate medium of oil paint to stake a claim for the renewed relevance and enduring value of the hand-crafted picture, and to question the relative status of photography as the supposed carrier of ‘truth’.
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