The optical kinetic art of Patrick Rubenstein ￼
Free, public receptions scheduled for Friday and Saturday
Local art collectors and art lovers will get a chance to see a vast collection of kinetic art and speak with one of the genre’s movers and shakers, Patrick Rubenstein, this weekend.
The Paris-born artist will visit from 5-9 p.m., on Friday, Nov. 18, at Art Elevated, 577 Main St. He will also appear from 2-6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, at Park Place Fine Art, 2417 W. High Mountain Rd.
“I’m very proud to be part of this,” Rubenstein said during a phone call from San Francisco. “When I do an exhibition, my pleasure is to speak with the collectors and to have an exchange with them. I enjoy showing them who I am, tell them my story and talk with them about my inspirations.”
Kinetic art is a form of three-dimensional multi-media creations that, in Rubenstein’s case, combines two images to create three different visuals, a technique he learned when he was 17 in 1977.
“The origin of my work came from my childhood,” he said. “My mother, who is still alive, was a cinephile, and my father, who passed away in 2006, was an art collector who also painted for himself. So, they gave me the taste of art when I was young.”
Rubenstein wanted his father to buy him a car, but his father had a different idea.
“Like every young man, you ask your parents for something and you think whatever you ask will happen like magic,” Rubenstein said with a laugh. “But my father said that I would need to earn my own money to buy a car.”
After Rubenstein asked how he would make his own money, his father showed him the kinetic-art technique that remains the basis of what the artist does today.
“He told me to go to his friend’s house and take pictures of his friend’s boy and girl, and print the pictures,” Rubenstein said. “After I printed the pictures, he told me to cut the photos into strips.”
Once Rubenstein cut the strips, his father instructed him to make a backboard made from raised triangular columns made of aluminum.
“He told me to paste the blades of photos of the boy on one side of the triangle, and then past the blades of the photos of the sister on the other side,” Rubenstein said. “So when you look at the picture from one side, you can see the boy, and when you look at it from the other side you can see the girl. And when you stand in front of it, you can see something else. It was very nice and original. And all the parents liked it.”
The parents paid Rubenstein for the art, and the parents’ friends asked him to make one for them.
“Then friends of the friends asked me for one and friends of those friends asked me to do some, so I made little money to buy a second-end car with the help of my father,” he said. “That is the genesis of my work. It’s a very complex technique, and I have to make sure the visuals move from one image to the next smoothly.”
These days, Rubenstein doesn’t use film and a darkroom to create his photos.
“I work with digital images, but I still print them and cut them,” he said. “My mother sees what I’ve done, and she’s very proud to see what I have achieved today from learning from my father to using the new techniques today.”
Rubenstein finds inspiration from everything that he sees or hears.
“Inspirations come from museum visits, meeting people, music, movies – all of that you can see in my creations,” he said. “The place where I was born, in the center of Paris, there are many art galleries, and my school was around these galleries. So, I would see them all and get inspiration subconsciously.”
Rubenstein also had the opportunity to work in the women’s clothing industry, which fuels the cogs in his brain.
“Even though I stopped fashion 20 years ago to become a full-time artist, I think the process of fashion — printing, color, the fabrics and volumes — gave me a lot of inspiration for making art,” he said. “It has helped me a lot in my creative process.”
While Rubenstein is known for his pop-art mashups, his works took a different turn in 2019.
“I decided to change my style and began working on (a series called) ‘The Exception,’ using a more subtle color palette,” he said. “I also began using gold leaf, because the gold reflects the light and adds dimension to the piece of art and reinforces the kinetic effect.”
Rubenstein’s subject for these works is the butterfly.
“The butterfly, to me, is a symbol of life,” he said. “If you look at one side of the works, you will see groups of flying butterflies, and on the other side you will see the abstractions based on the movement.”
Although he’s changed his subject for “The Exception” and also pays tribute to the masters — including Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse — he still uses his instincts to know when a piece is finished.
“It’s a hard question to answer, but I try to give emotion to people when they are looking at my work,” he said. “So, if a piece gives emotion and touches me, then I can be confident that it is finished for the moment.”
Colby Larsen, owner of Art Elevated and Park Place Fine Art, first noticed Rubenstein’s works while visiting Paris, and then again when he was visiting Los Angeles.
“Each time (they) had such a lasting impression and uniqueness that I sought him out,” Larsen said. “We tried a handful of works, and they sold immediately. Recently, when visiting Paris together, we’ve established a long term flow and business relationship that’s so fun and filled with a beautiful vision.”
Rubenstein is looking forward to his visit to Park City, a place he has never seen.
“This is a chance for me to have a gallery represent my work and show them to people there,” he said. “And I know it will be very cold.”
With the wrap-up of the 2023 Sundance and Slamdance film festivals, it’s up to Park City Film to carry the art-house torch with its weekend screenings.
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