There is new depth and simplicity in the works of visual artist Leonor Ruiz Dubrovin. She has abandoned acrylics for oil paints, and that’s not all, but eventually everything comes down to life and experience.
Text and photos: Laura Iisalo
The year 2020 was very productive for Leonor Ruiz Dubrovin, who spent a big chunk of it in her studio in Madrid during the lockdown. She worked every day, all day, preparing for her exhibitions in Madrid, Santander, and Santiago, and for her forthcoming show at Helsinki’s Huuto gallery. Altogether she produced over a hundred paintings.
– It was the only way to stay sane for the three months that I spent by myself. I love to work when I am the one who decides when, and how I do it. For me it is a very rich way to live, and I would rather work 24 hours a day as a freelancer than eight hours in an office, and then have spare time. My spare time is work, she says.
A graduate of the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Ruiz Dubrovin says that her art has evolved in the past few years, thanks to exploring with new techniques. The artist, previously known for her use of mixed media and love of sculptures, has started to use oil paints instead of acrylics.
– It is a challenging, magnificent, and versatile technique with so many possibilities. Oil dries gently and slowly, and it’s very nice to play with. It feeds the ideas that I have in my mind right now, she says.
"I let the painting tell me when it’s finished."
Ruiz Dubrovin’s show at the Huuto gallery at the end of April 2021 will feature a series of new paintings on different scales. Some of them look a lot like slightly shaken photographs by being somewhat blurry or out of focus, while some are more profound. The exhibition is titled Core.
– The name refers to a nucleus, an essence, or a heart, the most important part of something, says the artist.
Experience is the best teacher
Mastering new techniques has given Ruiz Dubrovin confidence but it is not the only thing that has changed; her works have also become more simplified. She thinks it is crucial for an artist to learn to be able to be self-critical in both positive and negative ways – and to know when a piece of work is done and it is time to step away from the canvas.
It hasn’t always been that way. When Ruiz Dubrovin was just starting out, she often continued working on her paintings to the point of demolishing them.
– Overworking can destroy the soul of the painting. I’m trying to maintain purity, and I let the painting tell me when it’s finished. It’s like riding a bike, you learn when you do it many times, she explains.
While everything is going smoothly right now for Ruiz Dubrovin, it is true that artists tend to face a lot of uncertainness and solitude, perhaps now more than ever. Ruiz Dubrovin says that she has learned to embrace both. She is not looking for life to be all predictable, and no longer worries over trivialities. While her younger self often felt anxious or frustrated for not being able to do everything straight away, now at the age of 42 she feels at peace and confident, knowing that there is the right time for everything.
– I’m very happy at this age, oh my god, it is the best! I know myself better and I’m more accepting, it’s quite relaxing. I don’t need to show off like I used to when I was younger. I have learned to do what has to be done first, little by little, and let the process flow. It has been a long journey and it took years and years but now I feel content.
M.A. Leonor Ruiz Dubrovin was awarded a grant from the Uusimaa Regional Fund in 2009, and the Central Fund in 2020.