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.
SCHRUFER: You say that you are self taught; what drew you to
art in the first place?
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.
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.
Was it difficult to be taken seriously without the requisite
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.
Are you able to live from your art or do you supplement your
income with another type of work?
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.
How have your travels influenced your work?
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.
Is there anything, other than the questions I've asked, that
you would particularly like to share with our readers?
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.
How did you go about getting gallery representation?
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.
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.
find out more about the Ruben Cukier, visit his website