Rebecca Brodskis (b. 1988 in France) lives and works in Paris. She spent most of her childhood travelling and living between France and Morocco. Brodskis has later lived in New York, Berlin, Tel-Aviv and now in Paris. Exploring the borders of the sensible world, Brodskis’ work evolves between conscious and unconscious spaces, leading to a reflection on the existence, the self and the otherness. The idea of being in an in-between is very central in Brodskis work, this intermediate space at the cross-roads of empirical reality and imagination, order and disorder, materialism and spirituality, determinism and freedom.
Through her paintings, Brodskis also expresses the ephemerality of life. Rebecca Brodskis' work is a form of exploration through painting of the relationship between the being and matter and the impact of the social on the individual. Captivated by moments of life that surround her, by discussions, images or characters, Rebecca questions those fleeting moments of everyday life that we do not remember, but that shape existence. She's taken on the task of questioning the foundation of human relationships while questioning the social context in which we live, a world in perpetual change, interwoven with ties that we do not understand. She uses this complex richness, the social diversity that surrounds her, the confrontation of cultures and individuals.
Beyond this wealth, it is also the loss of bearings of contemporary societies, caused by the questioning of social foundations that interests Rebecca. She points to the doubt, anxiety and disorientation of her characters in totally decontextualized environments, both void and the setting of the universal. Her characters are each metaphors of contemporary man, entangled in ever-expanding social circles, wandering through the meanders of sprawling cities, condemned to extreme lucidity but constantly invaded by the fear of tomorrow.
Was becoming an artist always what you wanted, If someone had asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up what would your response have been?
When I was a kid I wanted to be a truck driver...I spent my first five years living in an old blue Ford transit and I was spending quite a lot of time in these truck driver cafe places along the road. I was finding them so cool. I really liked the idea of driving a big truck when I would be an adult. In the end I don’t even have a driving license!
Rebecca Brodskis, Le joueur d’échec, oil on linen, 100x80cm, 2021
I’ve read that you have lived in many different cities including Tel-Aviv, New York and Berlin. How has this affected your work?
Haha yes I can’t stop moving around. When I know a place too well I start getting bored. I hate routines and I hate feeling like I know every corner of a city. I guess this affects my work as every city is a new experience, new people, new surroundings. Every place as his own new narratives that I try to translate in painting.
Who have been your main influences, artists and non artists?
I would say one of my main influence was my grand mother. She was a painter living In Morocco and she definitely brought art into my life. Other then that many writers have greatly influenced me like Sweig, Cioran, Baudelaire, Mann, Rimbaud, Cocteau photographers like Man Ray, Breslauer, Arbus, Woodman, filmmakers like Benuel, Pasolini, Welles, Lang, Wenders, Fassbinder and so on.
Your artworks are described as showing the ‘fragments of life’ and a recent show of yours in London at the Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery was titled Arrêt sur image or ‘freeze a frame’, could you elaborate on how these terms are reflected in your work?
I paint people, moments from the everyday life. Frames from our existences. Each painting is a fragment of life, something happening or someone passing capturing your attention for a brief moment.
Rebecca Brodskis, The childhood of Jacob and Esau, oil on linen, 162x130cm, 2020
How has your work developed over time? Have there been any major shifts in style?
Back in the days my paintings were more blurry and also a lot darker. My style has become more figurative I would say and definitely more colorful.
That’s it, I am finally out of my teenage crisis I think.
What's your studio like?
At the moment I don’t have a stable place. I left Paris at the beginning of corona and have been travelling around since then ... south of France, Tel Aviv, Berlin... painting where ever I can. Sometimes even in friends bathroom! But so when I do have a studio it’s really really messy... paint all over the walls and the floor...It drives me mad sometimes but I can't help it...
How do you focus when you work, do you listen to music or prefer to work in silence?
It really depends on my mood.
Rebecca Brodskis, Effet miroir, oil on linen, 162x130cm, 2021
Rebecca Brodskis, Jeu de main, oil on linen, 190 x 130 cm, 2021
Figures are a large part of your works, who are they? Are they people you know?
Yes I only paint people. Some I know some I don’t, some I imagine. It really depends.
Sometime I just see someone on the street and i know that person will be my next painting.
I try not to use photographs when I work or if I do it’s only for the main lines and then it’s after memory.
What’s your process from the beginning to the end of a work, Do you find it easy to know when a work is finished?
I start with a very quick sketch and then I cover the entire canvas with paint, tracing the main lines. That’s a first layer. Then start the real process of painting.
At some point things are just harmonious and working well and nothing can be added.
Finally, If you were able to interview anyone past or present, who would it be and why?
I would definitely introduce this woman I am obsessed with and I often refer to, Anne Marie Schwarzenbach. Her life is so fascinating, I would love to know more about it and simply get to know that woman a bit more !
Rebecca Brodskis, Alma, oil on linen, 81 x 65 cm, 2021