In April 1923 Rubin came to settle in Palestine. His first year in the new country proved decisive for his artistic development. His works underwent a gradual change, in both subject matter and style: landscapes and urban scenes from the early days of Tel Aviv, executed in a new, carefree style characterized by a bright palette, flattened color surfaces, and a naοve imagery, came to replace the preoccupation with asceticism and suffering of his Romanian days. Yet some of his works from this time still reflect the Symbolist style, Christian themes, and religious spirit of his earlier, pre-Palestine period. Important works created during this year include the woodprint series "The God-Seekers," and the paintings Moses and the Burning Bush and Self-Portrait with a Flower. "The God-Seekers" features depictions of daily life – secular and religious – in the Land of Israel alongside religious themes reminiscent of Rubin's Romanian style. These include a prophet at prayer, a figure of Jesus displaying his wounds – seemingly influenced by Christian Resurrection scenes – and Moses facing the burning bush. The depiction of Moses at the moment of receiving the divine mission, also portrayed in an oil painting from the same year, is unique in that it extends the biblical commandment "Put off your shoes from your feet" (Exodus 3:5) to the removal of clothing from the entire body. Nudity in these images suggests a stage of initiation, a kind of rebirth into the divine mission entrusted to the hero of the scene. In the painting, Rubin's choice to cast himself as Moses is of particular interest, revealing the artist's self-perception as the bearer of a new artistic message that will replace the outdated artistic trends of the Bezalel school. When depicting himself as a pioneer, holding in one hand the white lily – which in Christian imagery symbolizes the birth of the Messiah – and in his other hand the artist's tools, Rubin seems to be alluding to his new role: that of the artist-pioneer, whose pantbrushes will revive the desert of Israeli art.


From the series "The God-Seekers"

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