Artist Interview: Josip Rubes
Independent & Image Art Space: HiJosip. How are you these days? You were a doctor and how do you think the pandemic that we are in front of all around the world?
Josip Rubes: We live on this beautiful planet that is increasingly in danger from many disasters such as climate change and environmental and other types of natural disasters, and this year started with a COVID-19 pandemic. With strict protection measures, the number of infected and dead has been reduced.
Past few days of this month (June), the number of people infected with the COVID -19 has increased again because the measures of protection against it have been weaved, so I am now worried about the outcome and influence of this pandemic on humanity on our planet Earth. From the very beginning of this pandemic, the whole world has been hit by a great misfortune and uncertainty about its outcome because hundreds of thousands of people have already died. We were all overwhelmed by grief and fear for our own lives, the lives of our families, and all of humanity. I ran out of joy and inspiration to create new images. The art exhibitions I was supposed to attend as well as the painting fairs (New York)were canceled. For 40 years I worked as an internist-diabetologist with a lot of love and desire to help diabetics by giving them advice and therapy, so now this pandemic has made me sad because we are unable to control this serious infectious disease but I hope scientists will find a vaccine.
Independent & Image Art Space: Do you think your love for painting has any connection with your profession as a doctor? When did you realize you should paint as an artist? Was it when you attended the Arthous College of Visual Arts in Ljubljana?
Josip Rubes: My interest in drawing and painting appeared when I was a child who lived carefree in an idyllic village surrounded by beautiful nature and domestic animals. Already then I was doing my first drawings and I stood out at drawing at school. I admired the reproductions of paintings made by famous artists that I found in various books and even then I wanted to be a painter but my life path took me to medicine. I graduated from the Medical Faculty in Zagreb. I specialized in internal medicine and diabetes. As a doctor, I worked at the Special Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation and was the head of the Diabetes Center. It is well-known that many doctors paint and do music. In that way, they find relaxation and reduce stress after a hard and demanding day at work with patients. I also found peace and satisfaction in painting in my studio.
Independent & Image Art Space: We noticed that you used to do landscape paintings. Then after 2008, your paintings have turned to be abstract. They are all oil paintings, but they do have big differences. How do you feel when you paint abstract works now?
Josip Rubes: Since 1972, I have lived in Hrvatsko Zagorje, which is 30 km from Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. This region is known for its natural beauty with hills full of forests, vineyards with wooden houses, valleys with streams, and meadows full of flowers in spring. This region is also known for its thermal water springs and there is also the town of Kumrovec where Tito, the president of the former Yugoslavia, was born, so many tourists from various countries visit Tito’s birthplace when they come to Croatia.
The beautiful landscapes had a very inspiring effect on me and I intensively painted them in the technique of dry pastel and oil on canvas. I was a member of several painting societies in Zagreb and exhibited at many group exhibitions as their member but I also organized dozens of solo exhibitions. Despite the demanding and arduous medical call and family obligations, I hung out with colors in my free time.
After retiring in 2007, I enrolled in painting studies at the Arthouse College of Visual Arts in Ljubljana (Slovenia). I graduated in 2012 and the topic of my dissertation was “Jackson Pollock’s Painting”. Inspired by J. Pollock’s abstract expressionism with a special technique (action painting), I started painting in2008 in the same way. Pollock painted by placing the canvas on the floor and then spray, drip, and spill paint on it. This way of painting gave me complete freedom in applying colors that were still in a way controlled to achieve the imagined image. I gradually modified this way of painting so I gradually found myself in geometric abstraction. Of course, I was familiar with the geometric abstraction of famous painters who were the first to paint geometry such as Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian, Stella, and others. I tried to develop my own recognizable style that requires the precision of painting certain geometric shapes and lines in creating a composition, combining and shading of colors while creating the impression of illusion.
Independent & Image Art Space: Someabstract painters regard their action of painting as a way to express emotions, or as a place to do meditation. What about you? What attracts you to keep painting?
Josip Rubes: When I enter my studio full of canvases, paints, and brushes all around and where is a library with many books on painting and famous paintings, it is my environment in which I feel best, my possible frustrations and stressful situations disappear, my imagination and ambition for creating new images wake up. I always listen to music during painting that inspires me even more to create. When I finish the painting on which I spent 2 to 3 days, I am very pleased if the painting is succeeded according to my criteria, but the opinion of the curator and the viewer is also important to me.
Independent & Image Art Space: We are always glad to know about your new creations. Do you have any new ideas or new works that you would like to share with us?
Josip Rubes: In the last few years, I have painted over 100 abstract style paintings in the form of abstract expressionism and geometric abstraction. Some of these paintings make part of private collections. Sometimes I run out of ideas for new geometric paintings and then I paint realistic landscapes for a few days and then I paint abstract again. I have a lot of new ideas that I will transfer to the canvas in the coming months and it will be my pleasure to present them at exhibitions as well as at one of your painting events.