Questions of Forgiveness
January 9 - March 5, 2016
Opening: Saturday, January 9, 2016, 6 - 8 pm
in presence of the artist
Book signing: Saturday, January 9, 2016, 5 pm
Written by Gideon Rubin, December 2015
The recent issue of the ‘Jewish Quarterly’ had my work on its front cover. Questions of Forgiveness the issue’s title was spread across my work. The painting (Untitled, 76 x 61cm, oil on canvas) was done earlier this year. It’s of a policeman holding a baton and facing the back of a young woman. Dressed in pink and barefoot, she is blindfolded with a yellow cloth. She is holding a handgun. The image was taken from an American magazine, most probably ‘LIFE’ dating from the 1970’s. I reworked the image on the magazine, painting over the background, eliminating clues such as the crowd, a building in the background or any text that could help the viewer read the image. We are left with an ambiguous situation, riddled with unanswered questions. Who is this woman? Is this real or staged? Remembered or imagined? It is exactly this ambiguity that I am after.
At present, I find my work comfortably situated in this environment of suspended meaning, when an image is midway between representation and abstraction. The new work done for my upcoming show should be read as a diary with no specific chronological order. Time and memory mix fluidly as my usual obsession with early 20th century imagery slowly shifts to the more recent past of 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. Just like the blindfolded girl in pink, other characters too have begun to occupy my paintings repeatedly, originating in magazines and among found anonymous photos; partly imagined, these images like the children with gas masks and the harlequin have been with me for years. Some like the harlequin only managed to appear on my canvas very recently.
A couple of poems by Primo Levi were published in the same issue of Jewish Quarterly, I was especially taken by one, titled ‘The Girl of Pompeii’ which ends like this:
“…Nothing left of the Hiroshima schoolgirl,
Shadow transfixed on the wall by the light of a thousand suns,
Victim sacrificed on the altar of fear.
Masters of the earth lords of new poisons,
Sad secret guardians of definitive thunder,
The afflictions heaven offers us are sufficient.
Stop and consider before you push the button”
Gideon Rubin was born in 1973 in Tel Aviv, Israel. He studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and at the Slade School of Fine Arts in London where he graduated in 2002. In 2013, the Outset Contemporary Art Fund of Tel Aviv awarded him with a residency program; the following year he received a grant from the Shifting Foundation of Salt Lake City, in the United States, which lead him to attend another residency at the Da Wang Culture Culture Highland near Shenzen, China. Many international solo shows have been devoted to him since 1999. His works have been shown in group exhibitions displayed in international institutions such as the Flag Art Foundation in New York, Klosterhaus in Magdeburg in Germany, the Beijing Biennale at the National Art Museum in China, the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. His first Museum solo show took place in 2015 at the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art in Israel. His works are held in private collections notably in London, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Gideon Rubin lives and works in London.