brubin

Ben Rubin

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Ben Rubin
About the author

The work you see before you is made in a variety of media: Oils, glue, the pages of newspapers and magazines which have been cut up, torn up, ripped to shreds, then pasted back together, pigments on plastic cut into shape or sheet and pressed onto other surfaces. Sometimes these shapes and sheets are pulled away, having been placed there so that they might leave an imprint, a pseudo printmaking technique. Other times, the plastic might be left behind to leave its texture, which I find interesting, but also because its cut shape may do the important work of drawing a figure, or a head, or whatever image appears on the page. I love the act of pressing things against each other and pulling them apart. I love the distortions that happen when one does this. Just as I love cutting and pasting things. Or drawing with graphite or charcoal (though I haven’t included this work here.) Or the smell of oil paint. The roughness or smoothness of drawing paper. The chalkiness of compressed charcoal. The slickness of a magazine. The gooeyness of paint. The feeling of one’s materials in one fingers. I love these things. Yet what I love most is not knowing. It is those moments of genuine surprise, that happen so often in the studio and so rarely anywhere else, when one comes upon an image and the image speaks as something like a spell. Too often, we focus only on whether or not a spell comes to fruition. Then spells are nothing but proofs of the scientific impossibility of magic. And yet each spell, within itself, is itself a fruition. After all, what is a spell at its heart, but an expression of the deepest of our human desires, the deepest of our needs? You could say that my work focuses on the human form, and at times landscape, that it is abstracted, that it values ideas about beauty and expression of emotion, or that it seeks to place itself in time and space and history, that in some way it pays homage to Michelangelo, Cézanne, de Kooning, Agostini, as well as many others, because art is really not all that different from the people that make it and is comprised of similar concerns. That would certainly be true. Just as it’s certainly true that present day events and my familial history somehow filter into the works I make. Even were one to try, it would be impossible to separate one’s life from one’s work. But were you to ask me why I placed a mark here or there, why I used this color or that one, that’s not the best answer. The best answer is like that famous “Content is a Glimpse” interview in which David Sylvester asks William de Kooning, “So it was out of simple desire, then, doing the Women? It wasn’t a moral decision, it wasn’t a theoretical decision; it was simply desire?” Even reading these words, you can sense Sylvester’s shock when saying this. And then de Kooning simply says, “Yes.” Of course he goes onto elaborate, because that’s what one does in interviews, but it is that “Yes” I find most important. For it is the artist saying “Yes” to his intuition, to following his impulse without knowing where it will take him, except that it will possibly be interesting. That’s where my practice comes from. It comes out of intuition. If I’ve learned anything, it’s to trust these impulses to lead me to images. May each speak like a spell, the expression of a need or desire, which had not yet been spoken, if only because I had not yet discovered it. And that such a thing might in some way, in any way, be said, isn’t there magic enough in that?