A rose is a rose is a rose, even if it’s 5 feet tall and 7 feet wide. That’s the way master artist Joseph Raffael likes to paint his watercolor flowers in his studio in France. The American artist has surrounded himself with beauty and color, and as a result of this lifestyle, his garden and his birds are major subjects of his art. His medium, watercolor, allows him the freedom of a wide range of color, yet possesses the unique characteristic of transparency. Both his choice of natural subjects and of a transparent medium reflect Raffael’s interest in the eternal characteristics found in nature. To convey this quality, Raffael paints with the paper scrolled up so that he focuses only on what he is painting at the moment; no one part of any one work is more or less important than another. Only when the piece is nearly finished does he see the entire image. The exquisite detail found in each stroke of Joseph Raffael’s collection of bouquets has stunned people around the world. The paintings go beyond the flowers and demonstrate the power of the unimaginable beauty of nature.
Raffael’s interest in the eternal has probably been influenced by his brush with death many years back. After nearly dying in 1963, the artist’s formerly abstract impressionist approach was replaced with an expressive realism. Now, in more recent years, he has been introduced to meditation and focuses on an appreciation of life. With these new perspectives, Raffael’s style has again been transformed â€“ expressing single, whole images. The monumentality and complexity of his works offer new views of flowers, different from what we are accustomed to in daily life or in typical flower paintings. The size and vibrant color of each element in the images individualizes them, revealing each as a separate, yet integrated, part of the whole image. Raffael looks at the beauty of flowers and expands them to a remarkable scale and fills our vision with these beautiful works.
This national touring project was organized by the Nancy Hoffman Gallery includes Raffael’s recent monumental flower paintings. Raffael was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1933. He studied at Cooper Union, Yale-Norfolk School, Yale School of Fine Arts, and has received a Fulbright Fellowship. While at Yale he studied with artist/teacher and color theorist Josef Albers. Raffael’s work is collected by major institutions throughout the world and was featured on the cover of the June 2007 issue of Watercolor Magic magazine.