San Francisco

Richards Ruben

Dintenfass Gallery

In an adjacent corridor, mixed media drawings (crayon, oil and oil-pastel on paper) by Richards Ruben featured stylistically manipulated studies of the nude female figure in which erogenous anatomy and erotic gesture provided the dominant motifs for highly intellectualized graphic variations including much double entendre in terms of dormant images and “field-transpositional” dual readabilities. An obvious preoccupation with the optics and dynamics of surface patterning, both in the schematic (and primarily linear and attentive) distribution of a sparsely applied, limited selection of colors, as well as in the equally schematic elaboration of linear design together with its concomitant organization of the (“negative”) surface field, impart to these drawings a character having obvious affinities with multiple-block woodcuts and color lithographs. This print-like quality is further emphasized by the suggestion of composite super-imposition inherent in Ruben’s frequent “contrapuntal” cross-integration of two or more independently organized frameworks of design in the formation of his images.

The Gallic flavor of Ruben’s urbanely hedonistic evocations betrays his indebtedness to turn-of-the-century French sources. His flamboyant graphic studies, while expounding a Ropslike preoccupation with the voyeuristic seductions of the courtesan’s boudoir, nonetheless derive their stylistic heritage from Matisse. The startling surprises of optical legerdemain which reward a moment’s contemplation of some of these drawings do not disturb their pre-World War I Parisian character.

Palmer D. French