My post, Sunshine on a Cloudy Day, was about the paintings of Israeli artist Yadid Rubin. Sadly, Mr. Rubin passed away shortly after the post. The Chelouche Gallery for Contemporary Art and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art had an evening in memory of Yadid Rubin. My friend and extraordinary artist, Daniel Beaudoin, attended the event and wrote this guest post.
As an artist, Beaudoin felt an affinity for the of Yadid Rubin. Rubin painted spiritual landscapes. In a similar way, Beaudoin paints political and social landscapes in his art. Beaudoin says:
My art deals with social and political issues; and tries to give expression to existential dilemmas. I use everyday objects and a variety of materials, with which I texture and construct my canvases. This approach is exhilarating, and I often feel like a mason at work on a construction site. I am then free to present in my paintings the moral dilemmas of the social and political issues I am currently engaged with.
Yesterday evening, 29 February 2012, I attended an event to commemorate the passing away of Yadid Rubin (74), an Israeli painter that dared to defy and challenge the institutional dictates and rules set by the self appointed gatekeepers of Israeli art.
Yadid Rubin, born 1938, lived and worked in Kibbutz (a collective farm) Givat Haim. Rubin’s paintings remarkably and beautifully express the meaning of the allusive term Israeli: the landscape of the kibbutz, vast plowed fields, plantations filled with fruitful trees, columns of cypresses, warehouses and tractors.
Rubin, at the beginning of his career, was intimidated by color, and painted carefully, including self portraits and more minimal depictions of kibbutz life. He was afraid to “tamper with God”, as he put it to me one day when I had the unexpected luck of running into him at the Chelouche Gallery, which was his artistic home for more than two decades. Eventually, he decided to touch the face of the divine, and began to paint in an exhilarating and explosive display of color: hues of yellow, ochre, red, blue, browns and so many layers of paint applied straight from the tube.
I always wanted to get up real close and smell his paintings, maybe even take a small bite out of one of the plowed fields. The gooey bright texture, for some reason, reminds me of treacle and toffee, consumable landscapes of Israel. Unfortunately, on the many occasions that I went to see his work, including in the landmark exhibition he held at the Tel Aviv Museum for Modern Art (with a record six month showing), I was unable to escape the museum guards; I never had the chance to stick my face to the canvas and taken a good sniff and taste.
The repetitive motive of his work recall prayer mantras: again and again the emotional rendition of childhood scenes and adulthood spent in the fields and agricultural activity surrounding him. These landscapes, he said, reflect my soul, and that is why he preferred to paint from memory, and from within a windowless room, which was an old chicken coop. But the windows of his soul were very wide open, and they invite us to participate in the divine experience of his sensual orgy of color, texture and naÃ¯ve dreams of how simple and beautiful life can really be.
Very shortly before his death, for real estate purposes, the kibbutz decided to level the fields and cypress trees which surrounded his studio. The thought still haunts me that maybe the disappearance of the so familiar landscape had traumatized him so much that it actually caused his demise. I am not sure, but I know that whenever I travel through the country and see a red tractor plowing line after line of deep brown fields, or the row of pines along the horizon, floating in a mist of ochre brilliance, I too feel as if I were close to the divine.
Thank you, Yadid.