Rafael Perez (1938-2001)
From a very young age, Rafael initiates his education studying painting at Escuela de Artes Plasticas “Arturo Michelena” in Valencia, Estado Carabobo, in 1952. When he was 20 years old, he is appointed founder/director of Escuela de Artes Plasticas de Maracay “Rafael Monasterios”, named in honor of one of the greatest landscape painters in the country. Rafael was also Deputy Director at Escuela de Artes Plasticas Antonio Esteban Frias de Merida and later on becomes professor at Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Valencia.
In 1965, the city council in Valencia grants him the “Arturo Michelena Scholarship” to study in Spain. He becomes the first of the brothers to leave to Europe. He settles in Switzerland in 1967.
From this moment on, Rafael will show his visual research in Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, France, Germany, Brazil and South Korea with many trips to his home country, where he will continue showing his work in Caracas, Mérida and Valencia.
In September in 1969, Rafael takes an important step towards the internationalization of his artistic career with an exhibition at Suzanne Bollag´s Gallery in Zurich. Since its opening in 1958, this space brought together the most prestigious artists from the Concrete Art movement (Koncrete Kunst) led by Max Bill since 1944. The concrete Swiss artists (Zürcher Konkreten) defended the universal character of art and proposed the construction of a piece under the firm rigor of its visual elements: lines, planes and colors, with no reference or symbolism out of itself.
Rafael also had the opportunity to establish a tight link with Richard Paul Lohse, a respected Swiss artist, whom in 1943 proposed an unpublished composition-constructive method, which varied shape and color sequentially through serial and modular systems.
Nevertheless and without sticking to the Concrete artists´ rigorous procedures, Rafael decided to freely develop a detailed study of equilibrium, harmony, color and rhythm of the exterior shapes, in relation to their inner order. He established then “chromatic dialogues” as he had defined them. The use of his colors was not systematic, but keen on his gift for intuition about color that made him stand out with his “Modulaciones cromáticas”.
In that sense, Rafael gets closer to the theories about color proposed by the Swiss Johannes Itten, a professor of the Bauhaus, to whom colors should be seen, felt and be experimented on their infinite combinations with other colors. Something that Goethe denominated as “ethical stance toward color”.
After learning valuable lessons from concrete artists in Europe, Rafael knew how to balance the infinite capabilities of color, shape, and their magnificent diagonals. Some of his pieces stand out by their graceful combination of figures suspended before the painting, balancing on its axis and projecting an illusory shadow colored on the plane. Other compositions represented chromatic variations on the same theme, on which an overlapped figure looks like loosing gravity, shifting to a point on the plane, defying the limits of the frame, sticking out and granting the piece with a singular equilibrium.