Gideon Rubin’s paintings are replete with dichotomy. Their subject matter, taken primarily from vintage photos and magazines, is unapologetically nostalgic – yet the work is not saccharine.


Austere and elemental, the palate is subdued, subtle, seemingly faded. Forms are reduced to a few sure brushstrokes that suggest rather than describe a figure or landscape. Identifying facial features are lost, rendered in a swirl or smudge of paint. Areas of the picture have had the paint scraped away or have never had pigment applied to the raw, natural-colored linen. Yet for paintings of such compositional economy, they luxuriate in the sensuality of oil paint. Rubin’s brushwork – energetic, thick and three-dimensional – is frankly joyful.


Figures of children, parents, a glimpse of landscape – with their lovingly rendered subjects, these paintings feel intimate. Viewing them might be a voyeuristic experience, but instead there’s a sense of familiarity. It’s like the memory of something that’s at the point of fading completely, or remembering a history that you were told about but never actually experienced first hand. Though these are another family’s pictures, they might have been your own. The insignificant moments represented are the stuff of collective memory – the minutiae that make up the meaningful part of our lives.


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. Recent solo museum exhibitions include the Freud Museum, London; the Pharos Centre for Contemporary Art, Nicosia, Cyprus; Chengdu MoCA, China; San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, CA; and the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel.

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