Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 6, No. 2, 2007
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Robert J. Lewis
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Laura Hollick
Louise Jalbert
Rosemary Scanlon
Manitoba Art
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Francine Hébert
Marcel Dubois
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

revisiting surrealism

Ruben Cukier



A couple of months ago, I received an e-mail from yet another ‘self-taught’ artist inviting me to look at his website. I feared the worst, expecting a Sunday painter of landscapes or near copies of National Geographic magazine covers. But being a conscientious editor who leaves no submission unopened, I went to the sender’s URL, and to my delight I discovered the work of Ruben Cukier, an artist living in Israel, who actually manages to be a beautifully original surrealist. Although his work is reminiscent of Dali and Bottero, his paintings communicate the concerns and sensibilities of the painter himself -- Ruben Cukier. Ruben has traveled extensively and it is evident that he has been soaking up inspiration and a feel for the quality of light wherever he has lived. The following text is a transcript of an e-mail interview I conducted with the artist.

LYDIA SCHRUFER: You say that you are self taught; what drew you to art in the first place?

RUBEN CUKIER: I began to paint approximately at the age of five. It was like a game. Then I discovered, very intuitively, that painting was a communication form, my unique and personal expression, an inner necessity.© Ruben Cukier

LS: Were any artists in particular of greater inspiration to you than others? I'm guessing Dali had a lot to do with it.

RUBEN CUKIER: Dali was the beginning, the freedom of Surrealism, and the perfection of his style captivated me. Soon, other artists influenced me, such as Magritte, De Chirico, Escher, Hieronymus Bosch, and also non surrealists such as Edward Hopper, Klimt, the German expressionism in the cinema.© Ruben Cukier

LS: Was it difficult to be taken seriously without the requisite schooling?

RUBEN CUKIER: I think that this question would have to be posed to the art galleries. Unfortunately, the criterion is purely commercial; a good resumé is more important than good work. In most cases, self taught is associated with amateur or low quality. On the other hand, an excellent academic resumé, is taken for quality assurance -- even before seeing the work.

LS: Are you able to live from your art or do you supplement your income with another type of work?

RUBEN CUKIER: Unfortunately no. At the moment I must work at a job that's not related at all to the art . In fact I’ve never been able to live solely from my art, which frustrates me terribly, but it does not prevent my development as an artist. © Ruben Cukier

LS: How have your travels influenced your work?

RUBEN CUKIER: I think that each place has its own light. For example, in South America the light and the colours are more intense, unlike the Mediterranean light, which is more pale. The landscape does not influence because I work with my inner landscape. What does influence my painting is the social and political situation of each place: it adds anguish or escapism to my ideas and images.

LS: Is there anything, other than the questions I've asked, that you would particularly like to share with our readers?

RUBEN CUKIER: I am disappointed by the fact that in art, as in everything else, money makes the difference. For example, I’ve been invited to participate in the biennial in Florence in 2007 - everything very cordial and flattering, but if I don’t have 2.500 euros (and I do not have them) I cannot participate. If you don’t have such sums of money, you do not exist and your work is not visible.

© Ruben Cukier

LS: How did you go about getting gallery representation?

RUBEN CUKIER: Actually, no gallery officially represents me. I’ve recently started working with a group of artists. Together we plan shows. This lowers the exhibition fees for all of us and makes it possible to have more visibility.

© Ruben Cukier

LS: Good luck to you Ruben and just keep working because there are a great many good artists out there with all the right credentials and very impressive CVs who, like yourself, don’t have gallery representation. And like yourself, they create art because they have to.

To find out more about the Ruben Cukier, visit his website HERE. = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting
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