Gino Rubert’s studio practice focuses on the representation, animation, and reinforcement of the experiences and emotions that exist within the framework of contemporary romantic relationships. His narratives revolve around “the new man and woman, the contemporary couple in a time after the pill, after the strikes in May 1968, after the rise of Feminism, after all the politics and laws were developed to equalize men and women’s rights and opportunities,” says Rubert. “My characters are set in some kind of utopia. They are individuals who express their gender and nature without arrogance, complexity, or fear.” The new woman, new man, their functions (or dysfunctions), conflicts, and rhetoric are all key themes explored with a generous slice of self-deprecating humor by this Barcelona-based artist. To realize these investigations, the Artist employs painting, photography, and video – often within the same composition to achieve his singular style. “If I had to define a main thread that goes through my work,” says Rubert, “it would definitely be the need to look at the sentimental world from an ironic and critical perspective”
Rubert cites the Post-Impressionists and their circle as his main influence, including Rousseau, Bonnard, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec. From Rousseau, he says that he learned “the terms of sensibility and language.” Rubert’s works have a calculated sense of humor and tightness, yet they exude a spontaneous attitude. The Artist’s canvases often have different layers of meaning; he explains that he is “only interested in works that suggest more than tell, works that don’t allow themselves to be shut down by comprehension.” Rubert’s ideology stems from Spanish painting tradition where images are meant to create the illusion of a different space or dimension. The Artist explains this duality: “In Freud’s essay ‘The Sinister,’ he defines the sinister or intriguing as that which feels familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. As an artist, I am very interested in the experience of perception where you don’t really understand what exactly you are looking at. Is this photography? A painting? Is this character a man? A woman? Is this girl the villain? The victim? Is this a dog dressed up as a boy? A boy dressed up as a dog? The basic idea is to agitate in a pleasurable way.”
Rubert’s technique of blending paint with collage is nearly impossible to discern because its aim is to hide itself. For example, the Artist frequently places subtle elements of mixed media within the painting while at the same time painting sections in photographic emulation. Then, he paints on top of actual photographic elements in a loose, abstracted manner. An important component in the work is the use of old and recent photographic portraits, or soul captures, selected because of their undeniable strength and intriguing effects.
Thanks to Rubert’s figurative language and Surrealist air, he is often compared to Dalí, De Chirico, and Magritte. There are also visible parallels with the masters of Latin American Realismo Mágico and Surrealismo, including Kahlo, Carrington, and Varo. “It took me years to understand the particularity of my creative system,” says the Artist, “which is quite precisely described by Mario Vargas Llosa in his introduction to ‘Bataille’s Story of the Eye.’ He says, ‘here, as in the world of dreams, the form precedes the content.’” Rubert’s form is singular, at once enticing the viewer to explore his canvases, yet at the same time deceiving them. He uses this charged atmosphere as a locus to discuss the personal and sentimental complexities of romantic relationships, cutting through artifice to reveal our deepest emotions in a new light.