Hubert Burda Media

It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll

That may have been true for the Rolling Stones, but for artist PATRICK RUBINSTEIN, pop culture and art itself, means a lot more than just that. By Hillary Kang
We are surrounded by huge, multicoloured portraits of Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe and S

It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll

That may have been true for the Rolling Stones, but for artist PATRICK RUBINSTEIN, pop culture and art itself, means a lot more than just that. By Hillary Kang
We are surrounded by huge, multicoloured portraits of Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe and Stevie Wonder. They beam down on us from their perches on the wall, each of them a neon visage of gaiety, the contrast becoming all the more stark when compared to Galerie Bartoux's black marble tiles and chrome-piped furnishings.
“It really is another world,” muses the man responsible for the dynamic collection. He is Patrick Rubinstein and he is not wrong: Each canvas that lines the walls is a psychedelic study in duality, with two different images encompassed in every portrait. Take, for example, the monochrome shot of Marilyn Monroe in Norma: When viewed from another angle, the smiling siren segues into 12 miniature pop-art renditions of herself right before our eyes.
This is Rendez-Vous with the Giants and the portraits of icons that run gamut from Nelson Mandela to Andy Warhol are pieces of kinetic art, so named for their motion-based nature. The exhibition is also a testament to Rubinstein's fond childhood memories. Born in the 1960s in Paris, the fashion designer-turned-artist grew up in a time when The Beatles ruled the airwaves and old-world sirens such as Brigitte Bardot were all the rage.
As such, he found it fitting for his work to pay tribute to these vivacious giants in a manner that matched up to their larger-than-life personalities. “I don't like static art. I like movement on my pieces: When things are changing and moving —that's important to me,” shares the 54-year-old, whose avant-garde parents inculcated in him a love for the arts since he was a boy.
While the personable Frenchman readily talks us through his primitive method of creating kinetic art as a child (it involves two photographs, a pair of scissors and some cardboard), he is staunchly tight-lipped about how he made the present-day works that encircle us. “The way of doing it is not important,” he demurs with genuine seriousness. “What is important is what it represents and the emotion it gives you when you are in front of it.”
Like the cultural icons that so inspire him, evoking the emotive is an integral aspect of Rubinstein's works, emotions served in part as the foundation for the exhibition — born of nostalgic memories from his vibrant boyhood - and without them, he might not have become an artist at all.
After receiving his Baccalaureate at 18, Rubinstein went to work in his family's fashion business, where his active imagination found an outlet amidst the industry's rapidly changing trends. It was there that he thrived for several decades and would have remained till today, had it not been for one fateful incident.
“My father was the one who showed me [how to create kinetic art] when I was younger,” the artist says with a rueful smile, demonstrating the folding motions of his past fledgling technique. “In 2005, I wanted to show my three girls what I made when I was a boy. As I was doing it, everything came back to me… My father died [that year] and all the memories deep inside me just came back.”
So moved was Rubinstein by those memories that he became determined to revitalise his childhood craft. The self-professed perfectionist threw himself into three years of arduous trial and error — a “Herculean task” was how he once described it — before he was finally able to create his signature technique.
Today, he has come a long way from making comedic portraits for the amusement of his friends and family out of little more than photographs and cardboard. But his goal hasn't changed much from his early days: “I just want to create pieces that are full of brightness and give happiness,” he says. “I do what I like everyday,” he adds.
“And if people appreciate what I do, then I am happy.”
Though Rubinstein firmly insists that he “will never consider myself a success”, his portfolio begs to differ. His vibrant works are featured in numerous exhibitions in galleries around the globe, garnering a dedicated fan base. Now with the likes of a Formula One team boss and a Korean pop star as collectors, it seems that Rubinstein still has plenty to be happy about.