Benedict Rubbra: Eye to Image

Mary Youlden
Authored by Mary Youlden
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 6:00pm

The first major exhibition dedicated to Devon-based artist Benedict Rubbra’s search for a harmonious relationship between form, colour and light starts at Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum on Saturday 2 May.

Paintings and drawings spanning four decades trace the development of his singular technique; the art works all originate from three-dimensional forms constructed from various materials such as paper and card or wire and wood. Vibrant shapes of light are then projected onto these forms, creating unexpected spaces and colours, tones and shadows. Changed lighting transforms the object’s appearance, allowing the creation of further paintings and drawings from a single form.

Deborah Wood, exhibition curator and director of THE ART ROOM, says “Rubbra has enjoyed a long and successful career and has gained a wide and loyal following. He has a unique talent; a superb draughtsman and fine artist whose work resonates with the viewer on so many levels. He manages, with enormous skill and patience, to depict sound, movement, light and atmosphere through the single application of oil paint to canvas.  We immediately understand the mood of a painting; we feel his sensitivity; his love of nature and his desire to create order out of chaos. These wonderful paintings are to be enjoyed at leisure and this is an opportunity to see them in a particularly elegant and lovely gallery.”

Born in 1938, Benedict studied at Christ’s Hospital School in West Sussex then at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1958 until 1960. After ten years teaching in art schools, he was able to devote all his time to painting. He built his own studio and gallery in the Chiltern Hills, holding exhibitions of his new work every two years. The core of Benedict’s work since 1980 has centred on developing a process of making three dimensional structures based on ideas principally drawn from the landscape and architecture of the Italian Renaissance. These structures become the starting point for his paintings.

He concluded a parallel and successful career in portraiture in 2001 when he moved to Devon. Notable commissions include HRH the Prince of Wales for the Fishmongers’ company, Sir Colin Davis, Lord Hailsham, Lord Simon for BP and Sir Peter Burt for the Bank of Scotland. His publications are: Painting Children (1993), Benedict Rubbra, Paintings 1958-1998 (1998) and Benedict Rubbra, Point of Balance (2008). His paintings can be seen in private and public collections in this country and in Italy.

Benedict Rubbra: Eye to Image runs from 2 May to 2 August 2015. Most of the artworks in the exhibition are available for acquisition. A full on-line catalogue is available: with sales enquiries to
Image: Benedict Rubbra. Landscape with opening seed pod. 55x65cm. Oil on canvas 1990.


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