Gallery Girl meets Rubina Dyan

You’ve probably seen Rubina Dyan’s face somewhere. Whether it’s in a Victoria’s Secret photograph, a Fenty Beauty campaign or at a party with Diane von Furstenberg, the dazzling beauty is hard to miss. But Rubina’s modelling career is just one part of her life. An artist and photographer too, her work has a whimsical element, crossing several mediums that include paint, pencil and embroidery. Gallery Girl met with Rubina to talk influences and heritage.

 

 

Armenian-born but raised in Spain, Rubina was immersed in striking art from a very young age. “I grew up in an incredibly fascinating city where everything revolves around art and architecture”, she explains, “Barcelona was not only inspiring it itself, but also taught me how to see the world with a different set of eyes, finding inspiration even in the most mundane of things.” She recalls a copy of Picasso’s El Guernica being in the first house that she moved into with her family. “I am convinced that it has influenced my art style immensely”, she says, adding that M.C. Escher is also a huge influence, “Especially his metamorphosis, it helped me tap into a less abstract world, playing with geometrical shapes that transitioned into three dimensional figures, leading me to create realistic portraits combined with abstract ‘patterns’.” Escher’s influence can be most obviously seen in Rubina’s black and white illustrations where faces merge into and out of one another, tricking the eye into what it is or is not seeing.

 

 

Rubina’s artworks are normally figurative, populated by beautiful women in soft rainbow watercolours. “The people I paint are usually either fictional characters I envision or real people”, she explains, though she does add that her references are usually from the fashion world, taken from editorials or the colour palettes used within garments. So, how then, does she juggle a career as both an artist and a model? “It is extremely hard to find a balance between the two”, she admits, “On one side, I’m dependent on an unpredictable schedule that takes me from set to set, and city to city, and leaves almost no time to set aside for a passion such as art.” She explains that with other aspects of her life, like studying, she can somehow find a balance, but with art it’s different: “I can’t pick and choose when or what I want to paint. In order for it to be true to me, it must come organically.”

 

 

As well as painting, Rubina also takes photographs too, admitting that she made the move behind the camera after being stuck in “the longest artistic rut”. Having been given an old-school Yashica T AF by a friend, she favors analogue over digital photography. “There’s something so magical about film”, she says, “It is uncertain, just how it is when I paint. I start and though I can’t see the end result, I hope it turns out true to my vision.” In fact, she loves the feeling of getting photographs developed so much that, even if she went back to painting full time, she would never want that feeling to disappear.

 

 

Recently, Rubina has been developing a newer ink style, creating a series of work called Negative Space, where highly stylized faces are broken down into geometrical shapes and then brought back together. “There actually is a lot of meaning behind it for me”, she says, “It revolves around the concept of duality – good and bad – reality and fiction – darkness and clarity.” Rubina goes on to explain that the past three years have been crucial in terms of maturity and growth. “I have come to understand what it really is that I’m working towards in life, what and who I want to surround myself with, what speaks to me, what inspires me”, she says, “I have also started looking at things more realistically as well, which made me realise that that duality is what creates balance in life and that neither the good nor the bad will ever go away, but that my viewpoint and reaction to both is what makes the difference.”

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Images courtesy Rubina Dyan

Unlike Negative Space, the majority of Rubina’s work is bright and vibrant; a colour palette she says is taken from Armenia, where she was born. “There is so much influence of my heritage in my work”, she says, equating the warm colours to Yerevan, “My family made sure to maintain our culture and traditions in the household and travel back to the homeland as often as possible, making it impossible for me not to get immensely inspired by everything of my country: the vivid landscapes, stunning cathedrals, colourful streets, carpet patterns…” And, it can’t be denied that this sense of pattern, colour and energy is abundant in Rubina’s work.

As for the future, in terms of art, Rubina admits that it’s hard for her to have any plans, as it is what she knows best. “It doesn’t mean it’s not my passion and I don’t pour my heart into it every time I pick up a brush”, she explains, “It just means that I will keep making my art at my own pace, with my own natural progression, and see where it takes me, like I always have, and always dreamed of.”

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer and curator. She is the founder of Gallery Girl - a London-based curatorial platform and website dedicated to modern and contemporary art from across the globe. Her work is primarily focused on supporting emerging female artists from the Middle East and the Caucasus. She has written for Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, Suitcase and Vice Arabia among other publications. Her exhibitions in London and Armenia have been featured in Vogue Arabia, The Art Newspaper, The Art Gorgeous and numerous other news outlets. Gallery Girl has also spoken in the UK, UAE and Belgium about the contemporary art scene in the MENA region, and is planning further events in London and Amman.

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