Ruben C. Talberg’s Pintura Alchemica

Alan N. Shapiro, New York

An artwork from Ruben Talberg’s Pintura Alchemica suggests an important multi-nodal secret that can only become known to the initiated few. The work hints at presenting the key to solving a mystery, providing an answer to a riddle that is accessible via magic, mysticism and a very personalized meditation practice filtered through classical spiritual traditions. It also intimates a remedy or elixir as cure for an intractable ailment.

Talberg is very interested in medieval alchemy (the “conversio oppositorum,” the artist transforming his raw materials into creation, and transforming himself through his creation), and Jewish Kabbalah, i.e. the non-rational existential force which may be the living flame of Judaism. Any Pintura Alchemica work shows various compartments or ‘rooms’ which are almost like separate chambers in a doll house (what Derrida calls spacing). Or like the progressive stages in a video game where one needs to navigate through obstacles in one room in order to pass on to the next room, or to the next level of skill.

There is the sense in these paintings of something tactile, earthy, burned out, scarred, the charred remains of a controlled fire. There are scraps of paper with musical notations, poems written by Talberg, the sideways figure of a sculpted human body, occult esoteric designs and calligraphy, a board game, an overturned newspaper front page from the 1960s, ancient and talismanic symbols, the many circles and cycles of life. An original pictographic language developed by Talberg ... [...]

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