As always, before a new exhibition, we gather some questions from our team members for a written interview with the participating artist of the month. This time we’ve had a great pleasure of interviewing the talented, and ever so lovely Michal Rubens.
Enjoy your read, and see you soon at FRAMED#28 : )
What is painting for you?
The ability to create and destroy, to feel, to fear, to shout and to laugh. To be a like a girl running in an open field, like an animal, I don’t know, it’s just that. To go haywire.
Who are your favorite artists? your biggest influences?
The list is endless, I like the Expressionists with the wildness and emotion they express. The artists Käthe Kollwitz and Charlotte Salomon excite me. Drawings of children, of “outsiders”, and generally art that is made not in the context of “art” intrigues me. I’m glad to be able to find some great painters on Instagram that I didn’t know about, but they’re nothing like a real physical encounter with a physical painting.
Was there a specific moment when you decided to be an artist?
I have liked to paint ever since I remember. When I was six years old I made a pencil drawing of Jews in the ghetto, and I only painted the yellow badge. My parents duplicated this painting and sent it to my grandparents. A few years ago I found one of the copies, it’s a very strange memory. Suddenly something that I drew made contact with the adults’ world of the family and their story. As a girl, I didn’t think that art could be a profession. I am very happy that I later found out that this is possible, it’s a choice that I made every day.
How do you start a painting? What drives you to start painting?
A painting can start from an encounter with what is inside: emotion, thought, memory, dream, something that bothers my rest or an encounter with something outside: a person, a book, an old photograph, an illustration in a children’s book, a landscape and anything my senses stop on. I know how painting begins but not how it ends. Through painting, I can process these experiences. When I don’t, my situation and my environment are less good.
There is a strong sense of storytelling in your paintings, where do the stories come from?
Stories fascinate me, I look for them, imagine them, love to listen to them. These can be fairy tales, memories that are told as stories, stories that go from generation to generation within a culture. I have a lot of questions about stories and I’m not necessarily looking for the answers – what was and what wasn’t, what parts are being delivered and which are being muted, hidden. In my paintings, the stories blend and form into an image that gives a glimpse of the story, an invitation to search and to discover.
Many of the figures are masked, in disguise or posing, could you say something about that?
Many characters wear masks, they go out into the world and do something wearing the mask. That allows them to be in a space that is outside the existing order, to distract everything. Sometimes the mask exposes the character more than hides it. Many things can happen in the space between the character and the mask.
Do you listen to music while working?
While working, I listen to music, podcasts, and sometimes I need the quiet. The music varies by mood. There is not one thing, sometimes the song starts and I let the playlist run randomly. I Believe that the music influences the work but not always in a way that is visible to me.
Tell us something about the upcoming exhibition at Framed?
The upcoming exhibition allows a glimpse into my search process. Maybe it’s the moment that I came into a new country and got lost in the woods. It’s a joint celebration of all the characters and places I’ve drawn and I’m very curious to see how they will work together in the space.