Robert Glaubit


Robert Glaubit is a painter as well as a photographer. Throughout his career he has explored the possibilities that lie in the combination of both media. As with his earlier work , these pieces may be read as a commentary on the ever continuing dialogue between painting and photography. Informal snapshots, which form an integra l part of Glaubit’s program, serve as the frozen mementos of past events. More often than not, they act as substitutes for the real in our memories. Painting, on the other hand, is believed to be of a different nature. It is meant to visualize the distant regions that lie beyond everyday reality. Glaubit plays with these notions, stressing the limitations of both media. The works in Glaubit’s new series follow a repetitive scheme. Each work consists of two or three parts within a single wooden frame. In each frame a photograph is juxtaposed to a painting or silkscreen. All the photographs have their focal points blocked out; only their lower and upper edges remain visible. This irritating intervention is highly effective in that it forces the eye into looking for clues and trying to reconstruct the whole picture.

The photographs Glaubit uses in this series all allude to the common holiday snapshots out of the family album, creating an intimate relation with the viewer’s own experience. The paintings to which they are juxtaposed offer themselves as ready substitutes for the blocked-out spaces . Vacation (all works, 1989) shows an ordinary motel. The blacked-out horizon is repeated in the broad equatorial band that adorns a beach ball in the painting beside it. In turn, the beach ball reflects a globe of equal size next to it. The link with world tourism and the global proliferation of dismal holiday resorts easily comes to mind.

At another level, some of Glaubit’s interventions and propositions can be very disturbing. In Somewhere Near Rome, N.J., for instance, he presents the picture of a typical American family home, somewhere in suburbia. The whole piece consists of two mirrored photographs with a painted landscape of bright yellow and green sandwiched between them. Again, the blocking out of the photographs hampers the view; the better part of the house is gone, little more than the roof and the garden remain visible. The painting could well be an impression, a reminiscence, of the actual surroundings of the house. It is precisely in the recognition that Glaubit’s propositions are of an unverifiable and uncertain status that the viewer becomes aware of the uncertainty of his own concepts and beliefs. Why are we so easily persuaded into believing in something that is not there? The painting may augment the information given in the photograph, but it does so in an elusive, hesitant way. It doesn’t literally fill the gap, merely alluding to the photographically proposed theme.

This vagueness is effective in casting doubts upon our notions and opinions. Even the work’s title is unclear. In which direction is “somewhere”? How far away is “near”? All the photographs in this series were taken in 1977. They invoke a feeling of a shared remembrance of things (recently) past. But Glaubit avoids the trap of romantically layering the simplified information. Instead, he draws attention to the fragmented ways in which we perceive reality and remember the past.

André Minnaar