Knight Webb Gallery, London
Joseba Eskubi (b. 1967) lives and works in Bilbao, Spain, where he teaches painting at the Academy of Fine Arts (University of the Basque Country). He paints in an attic studio near the Guggenheim Museum, producing his distinctive oil paintings. His works are diminutive and introspective, with more than a touch of pathos. The work demonstrates Eskubi’s fascination with art history, especially the old Spanish masters Goya and Velasquez. His confident brushwork and fluid compositions demonstrate confidence with his medium, and show him to be highly imaginative with his subjects. His working process is fast, generating a prolific, almost obsessive output. Eskubi combines oil painting with other mixed media processes, building up layers which emphasise the material substance of the image. His soft and amorphous forms are part of a more sensorial narrative behind each work.; these forms writhe like pulsating organs torn from living creatures.
Floating between abstraction and figuration, the bleak landscapes behind his subjects relate to the ‘Black’ paintings of Goya. Perhaps we can also glimpse a mystical world reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch. The red, violet and rose hues within Eskubi’s work are also reminiscent of Francis Bacon and Philip Guston. These paintings remind us of their historical inspiration, without actually defining what that inspiration is.
‘An important part of my work is a small intervention on the paintings of others. I try to distort the borrowed forms, introducing ruptures, jets and folds. The figures twist, the colour becomes saturated ... sometimes the original image is buried under a new network of meanings. These works can be considered as collages where the scissors are replaced by the brushes themselves.’