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Gideon Rubin


Martin Herbert Libri


Coinciding with a touring exhibition of paintings and works on paper, this book is the first monograph on the acclaimed 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. Using found photographs, magazines and newspapers, mainly from the mid-twentieth century, as his primary source material, he paints portraits - faceless portraits. These small, unnerving paintings of featureless figures, full of life but empty of expression, are charming and chilling in equal measure, seductive yet sinister, intimate but impactful, delicate though disconcerting. By transferring characters from photographic sources, whether they be an American gossip mag or a Chinese propaganda sheet, onto canvas - and removing all traces of their identity - Rubin's work expresses not only how the grand narratives of history overshadow the individual fate of millions, but also how the passage of time erases the memory of the past. Meanwhile, painted-over newspaper and magazine photographs and tiny paintings on cardboard of blank-faced models, actors, pop stars and politicians - 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. 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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