Joseph Slifka Center at Yale University
Nancy Rubens, Summer, 2006. Acrylic and collaged papers on linen, 20 x 20 inches
Nancy Rubens' creative process involves both intuitive spontaneity and careful editorial decisionmaking. Her strength is to establish distinct moods that nevertheless encourage individual interpretation—generating a sense of motion while examining the forces that create it.
While the visual vocabulary that informs her new Blade/Scape Series is inspired by nature, it has been transformed into pure abstraction. In the past, Rubens has explored collage extensively. Employing everyday materials and papers, which have been handled, discarded, and which at times contain distinct cultural references, these works are complex and mostly rectangular compositions of dynamic vigor. The incorporated elements are found objects or came to Rubens from others, evoking the connotation of fate. Though much more abstract, her newer body of work is a logical continuation of this process and its inherent ideas.
In the new work, the various papers have been simplified and transformed into opaque colored, slim curvilinear shapes. These are cut out and pasted, one by one, onto the canvas, and layered into compositions of varying density. Each singular strand becomes a contributing element within the larger interwoven structure. The painted areas both unite and separate the “blades,” holding them in place, and the combination creates a particular sensation of floating or swaying or weightlessness.
These vivid and yet surprisingly soothing compositions evoke the complexity of human experience and emotion. Not unlike an abstract study of wind in a wheat field, Rubens’ works tell us as much about movement and the timeless transformation of form as about the evocation of a specific mood. They are a poetic tour de force, which opens itself to us as an adventurous path towards self-reflection