Victor Rubin has been inspired by Western traditions of representation for over five decades with metaphysical work on the self and the environment.
Using visual language like a literary master Rubin explores the most universally complex questions of existence through allegorical visions referencing the apocalypse, mass migration, world wars, everyday surroundings, utopia and love with equal amounts of seriousness and ambiguity. Rubin’s ever-evolving approach is the result of a life dedicated to aesthetic inquiry and studied emulation of prehistoric art and Western art from Impressionism to Modernism, Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and beyond. As Rubin put it, “The history of art is in my work.”
In 1967, aged 16, Rubin started attending Olsen Bakery Art School in Sydney. Encouraged by John Olsen Rubin read ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’ by T. S. Elliot on how emulating masters gives one the ability to perceive the spirit of one’s own time and place – the zeitgeist. Since then Rubin has been diligently building on the past in order to explain the present world to the future, while avoiding short lived trends. What results is work that offers an uncompromising vision of life in today’s world.
Rubin worked as a high school art teacher and later as a lecturer at the Canberra School of Art and Victorian College of the Arts. Before relocating to Melbourne Rubin lived in London from 1988 to 1990, was an artist in residence at the Cite Internationale Des Arts, Paris in 1990 and worked at the Beverley Springs Station in North West Kimberley, WA from 1992 to 1993. He now lives and works in Castlemaine, VIC.
Rubin’s work has been exhibited in over fifty solo exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions including Vox Pop – Into the Eighties at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1983-84, Australian Perspecta at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1983 and 1985, Identities: Art from Australia at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taiwan in 1994 and Return of the White Bull at Geelong Regional Gallery in 2004.
Rubin’s works are held in numerous public collections including the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, NGV, AGNSW, Queensland Art Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Auckland City Art Gallery, New Zealand and more. The late Patrick White and Miles Davis are amongst Rubin’s private collections in Australia, Asia, the US, UK and Europe.
John Olsen said, “At my Bakery Art School, Victor had an immense capacity for work… Thirty five years afterwards the compulsiveness has remained, the emphasis on creative attitudes mutated… He gives us works of significant diversity and originality. His work macro and micro continues to captivate, amuse and disturb. From cocoon to butterfly in his long journey he is surviving as an important artist…”
2010 Finalist, Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
2009 Finalist, Sir John Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
2006 Finalist, Blake Prize
2006 Finalist, Sir John Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
2004 Finalist, Sir John Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
2004 Finalist, Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, Moran Arts Foundation, Sydney
1996 Winner, Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, Moran Arts Foundation, Sydney
1994 Winner, The John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize, National Gallery of Victoria
1990 Artist in Residence, Cite Internationale Des Arts, Paris
1987 Arts Board of the Australia Council
1986 Half Standard Grant awarded by the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council
1974 Finalist, Sir John Sulman Prize, Sydney
SELECTED RECENT SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2017 Fellia Melas Gallery, Sydney
2015 Fellia Melas Gallery, Sydney
2012 Eva Breuer Art Dealer, Sydney
2011 Eva Breuer Art Dealer, Sydney
2010 Chapman & Bailey Gallery, Melbourne
SELECTED RECENT GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2010 Archibald Prize, AGNSW, Sydney
2009 Sir John Sulman Prize, AGNSW, Sydney
2006 Blake Prize Finalist, Sydney
2006 Sir John Sulman Prize, AGNSW, Sydney
2005 After Van Gogh: Australian Artists in Homage to Vincent, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery