gino rubert narciso in Le Bastart

Gino Rubert, narciso playing dress up

Life is a game of chess lost beforehand; the important thing is to participate. Medieval painters represented death playing chess with their victims, a time when our provisional, ephemeral nature was more accepted than now. macabre dances, vanitas… were reminders not exempt from underground sarcasm. A black humor that somehow was lost with the pathos of the Baroque memento mori.

gino rubert - vanitas iv - le bastart
Vanitas IV

Gino Rubert recovers the irony associated with our existential decay, adopting a festive-pop tone debtor of the Mexican worldview with its done up calacas as emblems of a desecrated and unprejudiced dealings with death.

The characters of Gino are voluptuous, cling to each other as if they were living on the edge of a catastrophe, they love, embrace, tie each other, they leave their lips being sewed, also their heads and even erogenous zones, they snuggle under the skirts, tattoo feelings in their skin … perhaps aspiring that love will eternize the instant, that eroticism will cancel time. But they can not escape the ringing of the hours, even annotate days with lines and bars as prisoners in their cells.

The skulls work as life rafts, swimming pools, ashtrays and vases; they are part of everyday props of these ashen faced characters looking at us askance, accomplices and seductive, as saying mischievously death will come and will have your eyes.

gino rubert - cruz dorada - le bastart
La cruz dorada

Amour fou, blind love, eternal love, masochistic, damned love… Gino Rubert dramatizes the extreme passions associated with gender roles and explores the mysteries of emotional ambiguity. He uses the ironic detachment to stage himself, mixing fact and fiction, anonymous beings and family, setting domestic tropes with magical overtones.

Q- In A Lover’s Discourse: fragments, Roland Barthes notes that the obscene and transgressive of love is no longer in sex but in excessive feelings. I see your characters very sentimental but also frivolous, as a kind of cold sentimentality.

Excessive feelings (falling in love, panic …) freeze and surpass us. Before something that exceeds us by its intensity we keep paralyzed.

gino rubert - cenicienta - le bastart
La cenicienta

On the other hand, sometimes human relationships (including sex) can be incredibly cold and lonely. I like the encounter between absolute opposites … if we take an ice, we can get to have the feeling that we’re burning. I think the coldness that arouse my characters also has much to do with his serious, deadpan, undaunted countenance that clashes with many of the actions they take (sew mouths, kissing, hugging). They should be laughing, gasping, screaming and yet look at us inquisitively.

Q- Some of the interiors display some complexity, with doors, windows, pictures and mirrors that act as thresholds and specular splits. In these, women seem to inhabit several times but the same space. Are those times life stages of Gino, whether real or fabled?

gino rubert - ma feline - le bastart
Ma feline

Life imitates art as saying Oscar Wilde. The architecture of which you speak is sometimes invention and many times I take them from places that are familiar to me. I like mirrors because they allow me to introduce the “out of field”. Concerning the different times conjugated in the same space, I think that is the result of the use of images from different times (some found in flea markets, other of relatives and friends) plus the fact of using the same model several times in the same painting. It’s that causes feeling of unfolding, of temporal overlap, as if different dimensions are found for a moment to reveal “everything that has happened” there. As Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida said, “every photograph is always catastrophe”; there is something “terrible” in it: “the return of the dead.”

gino rubert - thesis - le bastart
Thesis 2

This simultaneity of times, next to the use of proportions and emphasis on detail, reminds me  of the Quattrocento compositional solutions, when the same architecture represented different biblical episodes, making the perspective intervene as a plot element, also involving the architectural trompe l’oeil.

Q- You also introduce the optical illusion by combining painting and collage elements that simulate a hyperreal technique (hair, thread, grass, photos …) The frozen rictus that only the “camera lucida” can capture, combined with articulated dolls bodies lead us to the Freudian field (via Hoffmann) of the uncanny. How much we have of automatons?

gino rubert - las esclavas - le bastart
Las esclavas

We are all a bit Olympia, we have some automaton, although I think my characters are closer to the Offenbach version that Freudian reading, so operetta not without irony. Freud gets too “serious”. The automaton connects with the idea of deceit, farce, appearance and, as you say, my collages are trompe-l’oeil where the pictorial image and the actual elements are confused so that it is evident the illusory and contrived character of painting. Just as in the story of Hoffman, the sight is not enough because nothing is what it seems …

Q- Parody, desire to be another, fruitless search for identity, evasion, ennui… What motivates endless parade of Ginos?: hunter, explorer, rescuer, lawyer, heir, pianist, romantic, artist signing certificates (as authenticating his own existence)…

He is Narciso playing dress up! As Rimbaud said: “je suis un autre”.

gino rubert - playtime - le bastart
Playtime II

Q- The chess game on some of your pictures makes me think about death, perhaps it was not your intention, but it suggests to me that you achieve the complicity of the spectator precisely because of the ambivalence of symbols, inviting us to compose our own puppet theater, projecting in it our own ghosts and obsessions.

I like to play chess, I find it a really beautiful game … And yes, as in the Bergman’s film The Seventh Seal, an interesting personification of death would be that bald dressed in black with a chessboard under his arm that haunts us to play! In the Middle Ages, chess was a symbol of courtship, I think a very accurate picture of what is romantic love, a game between two … to death.


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