In his fifth solo exhibition at Hosfelt Gallery, Gideon Rubin (b. 1973, Tel Aviv) presents a new series of paintings that question the meaning of art by testing the limits of two of the most traditional genres of painting: portraiture and landscape.
In a decisive shift from his past work, which originated largely from early twentieth-century found photographs, Rubin has turned to contemporary sources of visual experience, from cyberspace, to print media, to snapshots and souvenir postcards.
By choosing the traditional genres of landscape and portraiture, Rubin sets up the expectation of recognition and the satisfaction of a comprehensible image. These paintings, however, deliberately frustrate those assumptions, and test the limits of genres largely dismissed by the contemporary art establishment as fully exhausted.
As interpretations of mediated images, Rubin’s paintings are doubly removed from original experience. Does a painted image, twice removed from its origin, have anything new to offer? Artists have been exploring this question for years. Rubin’s work suggests that in this era of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, rampant entrepreneurship, and the glorified assertion of ‘me in all my special uniqueness,’ the only meaning left is that which is generated by the unique interpretation of each viewer.
Most artists hope that their work will compel audience engagement, and that meaning is expanded beyond the artist’s original intention by such engagement. The best art provides this opportunity. With Rubin’s work, meaning exists solely in the context of a viewer’s participation. His scenes – benign, mundane – are a framework within which meaning is generated through the process of looking. They become articulated through the process of engagement, and that articulation changes with each viewer.
Gideon Rubin was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and lives in London. He received his MFA from Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London. His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in New York, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Cologne, San Francisco and Beijing.