Raul Gabriel is an Italian Argentine artist who lives and works between Milan and London. He exhibits in public and private spaces in Italy and elsewhere and his works are found in numerous collections public and private. His exhibitions include major installations and deep investigations on the nature of space.
After an early period dedicated to experimentation in music, in jazz, he began to focus on visual arts travelling to Milan initially where he set up his first studio. He then moved to London for a period of residence before returning to Italy where he has exhibited frequently at numerous solo exhibitions.
One of the main themes explores is the human figure as a material being that both evokes and creates energy and passion but is also in a constant state of flux, emerging and retreating in turn. In some of his work he uses materials like bitumen, a building material, that possess an inherent physicality. The layered surface becomes strongly textured as the material solidifies. This infuses the work with a physicality that draws the viewer in, inviting examination of the material itself and its interplay with light at one level while remaining a medium for expression at another. As always presenting the layered meanings and paradoxes that form Gabriel’s natural milieu.
The works on display here are from three series of works Gabriel has developed: the “Pittura Feroce” or ‘Fierce Painting’ series, the ‘Writing’ series and the ‘ZOO’ series. These are all works on canvas that have an intensity that immediately captivates the viewer. The themes are interlinked and interwoven with Gabriel’s artistic development and are themes that are central and enduring in Gabriel’s work – the physicality of existence, the ambiguities of identity, the primacy of energy, the materiality of being while also emphasizing that art has a form of semantic reality, a form of writing but without formalised syntactical rules or grammar but capable of conveying meaning nontheless. The work here from his ‘Writing’ series make reference to this although without providing anything more than tantalising clues as to the nature of this ‘writing’.
The ‘ZOO’ series has been developed in parallel to the ‘Writing’ series and other works. These are strong images, predominantly pools of colour or of black or white in distorted but recognisable shapes. They are explorations of light in relation to form and meaning. Each image has sufficient representational structure to be recognisable but yet is sufficiently distorted to allow the viewers gaze and imagination to explore its possibilities. Their statement seems simplified and primeval but becomes complex on closer inspection as the textures of the surface and the reflection of light on the corrugations of the surface texture steal the viewer’s attention. The lens of perception adjusts with the distance of observation.
Some of the ‘ZOO’ images and the ‘Writing’ images were displayed in Gabriel’s superb 2017 exhibition, LUCEBUIO, at the Museo Diocesano in Tortona, Italy alongside images from the Italian Divisionists from the early 20th century as well as some earlier sacred art, in a study of the nature of light and darkness. Here, Gabriel’s works were juxtaposed with Divisionist images in an artistic dialogue to illustrate the connectedness of these very different techniques. Similarly, the juxtaposition with sacred art from much earlier also showed this strong connection due in part to the handling of light and dark and in part to the intentionality of the imagery.
The black images, in particular, are interesting in this study. True black is the absence of reflected light: all light is absorbed and none escapes. But this nevertheless outlines a form in the visual panorama, a shape in visual space, and, in itself, paradoxically, a ‘colour’ in our perception that is the absence of colour. In material things black, as we know it, can be a highly reflective surface however, displaying the chromatic properties of matter rather than electromagnetism.
In his introduction to LUCEBUIO exhibition, Paolo Bolpagni, Director, Ragghianti Foundation for Arts, Lucca, Italy writes:
Paradoxically, therefore, it is in the Black paintings that we can see a meticulous study of the rendering of the phenomenon of light and its specific nature, in which a theoretical kinship can be identified with the Divisionists’ research and methods. Firstly, Raul Gabriel reminds us that black does not exist in painting but rather that there are many possible and different blacks. The use of the term, moreover, is conventional: given that the “black body” is an ideal object of physics, which absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation without reflecting it, that is, absorbing it entirely, it must be said that we do not find perfectly “black” bodies in nature. The energy of photons, transferred to the electrons, atoms and molecules of a material, is always “returned” through refraction: the difference between a very dark colour and a light one lies in the percentage of electromagnetic radiation that is reflected from the object, rather low in the first case and high in the second. It should not therefore be surprising that Raul Gabriel’s Black paintings are more “rich in light” than might be expected, as well as internally diversified by the degree of opacity.
The pictorial problem tackled in these canvasses is not so dissimilar from that posed by the Neo-impressionists and the Divisionists trying to increase – through the combination of little brushstrokes of pure colours – the luminosity of their works. It is only that Raul Gabriel pursues this objective through paradox, showing us how even a painting totally in black can produce a spectacular effect and an impression of light, thanks to the use of the enamels and their irregular and “biological” arrangement on the medium, which leads to a vast range of shades, dialectics and shiny-opaque contrasts.
from Press release of BODY AND SOUL Raul Gabriel solo show May 14th – Jun 30th 2020, DEKKA-ARTS Gallery
Margate, 6 Lombard St, Kent
Some solo and group shows
2000 | “Periscopio” public group show, curated by Francesco Tedeschi, Palazzo delle Stelline Milan. “Angels” curated by Flaminio Gualdoni , Fabbriche EOS Gallery, Milan
2001 | “Fierce Painting” Raul Gabriel solo show curated by Flaminio Gualdoni, Poggi Gallery, Ravenna
2003 | “Body I am, nothing else” Raul Gabriel solo show curated by Eleonora Fiorani, Mudima Foundation ,Milan
2003 | 2005 Quadriennale of Rome
2006 | “ Welcome to his planet” Raul Gabriel solo show
curated by Dafydd Roberts. Londra, Broadbent Gallery.
2007 | “Traffic Lights Concert” Raul Gabriel solo show and video sound performance Milano,
Public space Spazio Oberdan.“ Grain Circles” Raul Gabriel solo show a cura di Gianluca Marziani.
Rome, Gallery Pino Casagrande.
“Urban Trash” Raul Gabriel solo show Milano, Grossetti Gallery contemporary art
2008 | “Colournocolour” Raul Gabriel solo show Perugia,Armory Gallery.
2010 | “Silkocoons”, Raul Gabriel concept project of Silk Road. Shangai, World Expo.
“Gudbike” Raul Gabriel installation Bologna art fair , Bologna city center.
“GudBike”, Raul Gabriel solo show curated by Gianluca Marziani. Spoleto, Palazzo Collicola, Two World’s Festival
2011 | “Bak2Berlin” Raul Gabriel solo show ArtMbassy Gallery, Berlin center “O-ONE” Raul Gabriel video installation, Spoleto Two world’s Festival, curated by Paolo Bolpagni, sponsored by Monini, Spoleto.
2012 | “+50 Sculptures in the city ”, curated byGianluca Marziani. Spoleto.
“Topos Tomie”, Raul Gabriel solo show curated by Paolo Bolpagni.Perugia, Palazzo Conestabile della Staffa.
2013 | “Lumen Ray” international group show. Milan, Jerome Zodo Gallery.“ Caro Cardo”, Raul Gabriel solo show curated by Francesco Tedeschi full professor in history of contem-
porary art University of Milan, Assisi, Porziuncola Museum.
“Worm$”, Raul Gabriel solo show curated by Guido Cabib . Milan,The Format contemporary art gallery.
2014 | “OnetoOne”. Pavia, Broletto Arti Contemporanee. “Sign, Body, Sacred” Raul Gabriel solo show Brescia Diocesan Museum and Paolo VI Collection of contemporary art . “Sinopiae. Raul Gabriel meets Lucio Fontana”, Raul Gabriel solo show curated by Paolo Biscottini. Milan, MUDI Museum. “Virtual Apraxia”, Raul Gabriel solo show, text by Roberto Diodato philosoper and University professor, curated by Guido Cabib . Milan,The Format contemporary art gallery.
2015 | “Back2Berlin”, Raul Gabriel solo show curated by
Haim Baharier. Milan, Auditorium San Fedele. “Xfiction”. Raul Gabriel video installation and solo show Brescia city center, two venues. Della Loggia
square and Cathedral.
2016 | “Si fece Carne”, curated by Federica Chezzi,international group show with Yves Klein, Nan Goldin, Mark Wallinger, Raul Gabriel, Adrian Paci and others. Florence, medicean basilica of st Lorenzo. “ Michetti prize”, curated by Luciano Caramel. Francavilla al Mare, Michetti Museum.
“Design behind Design”, XXI Triennale of Milan.
2017 | “The Glorious Nothing” Raul Gabriel solo show
curated by Nicoletta Castellaneta, Rivolidue foundation, Pacta Salone theatre Milan.
“Body out of the rule - Via Crucis of form” Raul Gabriel solo show texts by Stefano Castelli, art critic, and Cesare Pagazzi theologician. Romanengo citadel, Milan.
“LuceBuio” Raul Gabriel solo show , texts by Paolo Bolpagni, Alessandro Beltrami. Curated by Divisionism Foundation of the Bank Cassa di Risparmio Tortona, and Diocesan Museum of Tortona. Two venues: former cotton factory Delle Piane and Diocesan Museum of Tortona.
“CorpoVivo: William Congdon and Raul Gabriel” in collaboration with the William Congdon Foundation Milan, St Angel , Milan
2019 | “La Sixieme Republique” Raul Gabriel solo show, texts by professor Alberoni, Full professor in Sociology , former Rector of Trento University and IULM Milan. Public Archives of the city of Milan, Milan “The Circle “ curated by Nicoletta Castellaneta and Rivoli2 foundation , Private Banking Italian Association Venue, Milan.
2020 | BODY AND SOUL Raul Gabriel solo show , DEKKA-ARTS GALLERY Margate, Kent, UK may-june
Alongside the visual artistic project the philosophy beyond his work and approach has been exposed in given lectures and theoretical actions. These are some of them for the period 2010-2017
2010 | “I martedi critici”, curated by Alberto Dambruoso. Rome.
2013 | “5 chairs: State steps”, Raul Gabriel artistic and philosophical action
curated by Roberto Diodato, professor of philosophy, university of Milan, Milan, Esthetics department.
2015 | “The One Investigation” Raul Gabriel theoretical lecture curated by Giancarlo Lacchin. Milan, university of Milan philosophy department.
2016 | “Chair’s distopy”, Raul Gabriel theoretical lecture curated by Giancarlo Lacchin. Milano, university of Milan, philosophy department.
2017 | “Philosophy and figurative arts”, Raul Gabriel debate with Giuseppe
di Giacomo, full professor of Esthetics University La Sapienza of Rome,
curated by Elio Franzini, full professor of Philosophy and Rector of the University of Milan.
Paolo Bolpagni, art critic and director of Fondazione Ragghianti of Lucca, writes : «The attempt to combine these outcomes with the contemporary products of the creative talent of an artist like Raul Gabriel, with his Black paintings and White paintings, works that shrink from a clear separation between figuration and aniconism, may seem bold. Two series, moreover, that move in different directions: the “whites”, with their filamentous trajectories, halos and sign-like lumps, in the search for an intimate structure of the real, evoked not by way of “similarity” or analogy but rather by formal equivalents that denote precise entities of the physical being; the “blacks”, thickened with dense enamels and corrugated surfaces, designed as investigations and experiments of pure pictorial fact, the optical and mental make-up of vision, of the refraction of light on matter. Paradoxically, therefore, it is in the Black paintings that we can see a meticulous study of the rendering of the phenomenon of light and its specific nature, in which a theoretical kinship can be identified with the divisionists’ research and methods. ».
Alessandro Beltrami, art critic and art journalist in national newspapers: «In this lie the deepest processes of the painting of Raul Gabriel. Certainly, his works are the outcome of a complex operation in which the margins of decision, control and risk are in flux and so the final result is evidence of an “event” even before the outcome of the project. But the continuous change in time and space in the persistence of the given form ensure that the work is a “living body”. According to the Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freyre “el mundo no es, el mundo està siendo”. Replace the word “mundo” or world with “painting” and you will have one of
the best definitions of the work of Raul Gabriel.».