The Traveling Artist

Unique artist books have been with me ever since I started my practice in art. Notebooks and journals are essential in my creative process. Not only are they finished works, but they also trigger a flow of ideas. The process is urgent because the trip is progressing; creating them is a race against time. I work on these journals daily, jotting down details of what I see and hear, and I also derive themes for future series of works. The first travel journal I did was in 1999, “Journal of a Trip to the Island (Cuba), about my return to Cuba after nearly four decades, included in this exhibition.

My readings in world literature have opened doors into poetic ways of thinking, such as word-image connections in the structure of books and in the concrete poems. Listening to local languages brings in phrases or individual words that echo around the images. In “Miami-Geneva,” the number of letters in the title determines the number of pages in the book, words four languages are included. Each trip reveals its own configuration with my use of diagrams and maps. By plotting my route in lines and returning curves, I discover my life’s geometries. Most of my books are hand bound by me, the media is watercolor and ink on handmade paper.

Lydia Rubio‘s Travel Journals are a result of an early appreciation for words and calligraphy. In the 1980’s, her practice emerged from incorporating her fascination with poets, the act of drawing, the life behind lines and gestures, and the sensual qualities of paper into the medium of the artist’s book. For Rubio, these books are the field where a free stream of thoughts meets the planner of strategist. Her Travel Journals are an artistic documentation of the artist’s travel narratives across linguistic and geographic landscapes. The works record the artist’s experiences across a variation of calligraphic, drawing and poetic compositions. This exhibition includes multiple series of work including The Genius Loci Book, Journal of a Trip to the Island, and Travel Journals.


The Genius Loci Book 2014, documents the artist trips in Colombia during her extended residence, with notes, maps, watercolors and quotes from A Von Humboldt, Frederick Church, Goethe about landscape and art. The Journal of a Trip to the Island documents the artist’s trip to Cuba in 1999 and contains the studies for works that were later executed after returning to the studio. The works represent her reaction against the extreme visual and verbal turbulence within today’s world. Of them Rubio says, “in them, I look for refuge, retreat into self, silence.” Continuing this work today, her studio practice is an ongoing investigation of nature and representation in painting: imagined or perceived, the abstract or the real simulated.

Exhibition Views

Genus Loci by Lydia Rubio
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