Ephraim Rubenstein, a wonderful artist and fellow silverpoint artist, has just sent me the announcement for his forthcoming solo exhibition at the George Billis Gallery on West 26th Street in New York. Entitled Temples and Cathedrals, it is a show of large-scale mixed drawing media depictions of European Gothic cathedrals and massive Greek temple ruins. It will certainly be a dramatic and impressive array of drawings.
What I found interesting were Ephraim's concepts behind this body of work. In both the pagan temples and the cathedrals, he evokes the "magisterial quality of these sacred spaces". Scale, architecture, play of light are all devices used in sacred structures to impress and convey a sense of the presence of the divine. There can be few of us who have not been silenced in awe at the sight of the mighty harmony of soaring Gothic arches or the dazzling glory of huge rose windows enclosed by lacy stone. Similarly, Greek temples, no matter how shattered by time and man's depredations, evoke the centrality and the power of the gods in man's daily life by the extraordinary elegance and drama of columns, friezes, pediments.
By playing these very different types of structures off each other in his dramatic monochrome renderings of temples and cathedrals, Ephraim reminds us of man's perpetual quest for the sacred. As he points in his press release about the exhibition, the metamorphosis of man's religious beliefs, from paganism to Christianity, is echoed even in the stones of the different sacred structures. Many of the cathedrals were built with stones taken from earlier temples. Another form of Sic transit.
Knowing how beautiful Ephraim Rubenstein's art is, I am certain that this will be an exhibition well worth visiting if you are in Manhattan.