Video Interview 2012
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RM Vaughan: The Big Picture/Why is Toronto so afraid of colour? National Post /May 14, 2005
It’s cliché; but it’s true: Toronto is cold, tough town for artists.
We make our creative types polevault over high walls that would kill Montreal or Winnipeg artists, spoiled as they are by supportive, arts-positive populations. (And, in the case of Quebec, entire wings of the federal government.)
Take, for instance, the case of Toronto-based painter Raffael Iglesias. His work is regularly exhibited in Latin America and Europe, where it sells faster than fresh-cut flowers, but he can’t seem to move much product in Toronto. Which is puzzling, since his paintings are gorgeous parades of colour and masterful feats of culture jamming.
“I don’t know why, but the Europeans like me more,” Iglesias tells me when I visit his latest show, at Peak Gallery. “Toronto seems to be a bit afraid of my work because it is so bright and colourful. I think my paintings are very serious, but they don’t look severe or dark.- and Toronto likes dark work. I thing Toronto buyers associate ‘seroius art’ with very minimal pieces that have a limited colour scheme.”
Or to be less polite, the towns art establishment is clenched tighter than the Pope’s fist. A pity, because buyers are missing out on a limited time offer to buy Iglesias’s work before it inevitably skyrockets in price- an event that will undoubtedly and I’m sad to say , typically happen once local curators and buyers get the thumbs up from the almighty New York or Berlin. If, as the old Stranglers song goes, everybody loves you when you’re dead, Toronto loves you when you are deified in the Village Voice (but no minute before).
Well screw’em. Iglesias’s new work are his best to date- a bold leap forward from his previous work, which tended to be attractive but often to small to contain all his manic image hoarding. These days, he’s working big, and the payoff is a series of huge paintings that are as busy as a Vegas floorshow and just as sexy.
Iglesias’s layers spray- painted stencils over blocks of hot, even toxic metallic car-paint colours, add more stencils then attacks the canvases again with the scratched on drawings, another layer of shimmering metallic paint, splashes of varnish (and nail polish?) and even solarized kids stickers. To call these works busy would be like calling Proust’s novels long winded- busy aint the half of it. You can stand in front of of an Iglesias painting and find dozens of things to look at, all of them as pretty as fireworks. Look again and you’ll see a dozen more.
Through Iglesias’s work uses everything from Latin American movie posters to graffiti tags, anti Bush propaganda to biker tattoos. (he runs a side business as a tattoo artist), his work never looks accidental. The paintings are not messy- rather they are as carefully organized as a beloved Curio Cabinet. It takes a lot of quite planning to make such beautiful noise.
Listen up Toronto.
A welcome flash of colour amid the grim days of early December, Raffael A. Igle- sias" ELXO exhibit wittily captures the energy of Latin street culture. Combining vestiges of text. poster art, stickers and Catholic iconography, Iglesias attempts a glittering, expressionist rendering of the urban landscape; in fact, walking through ELXO is akin to witnessing a series of firework explosions. "Cafe Con Leche" includes in its painting- collage rockets, stars, roses, a Coca- Cola ad, flaming hearts and, most prominently, a donkey. Iglesias is foremost about fun, though the clashing hues and central image [pin the tail on the donkey) suggest the culture of violence that necessarily attends such an exhilarating,
g arish appreciation of city life.
R.M. Vaughan: The Exhibitionist
Globe and Mail
October 15, 2010
Raffael Iglesias: Mil Fuegos To Nov. 6, Peak Gallery, 23 Morrow Ave., Toronto
If there’s a hot, brilliant colour Iglesias hasn’t used in his wild, graffiti-driven paintings, it must be a hue known only to the angels. This is what your brain looks like when you’re dancing.
garish appreciation of city life.
John Bentley Mays/ LoLa 03
Raffael Iglesias works at the seedy intersection of Latino and Nord Americano, where Cevys with souped-up motors and beat-up paint jobs mow down jive ass hip hoppers, where Hispanic Rococo comes slouching out of Tattoo parlours in the brown puffed up chests of Che’s buddies, guys and where Chicanismo is packaged and hawked like street flour fajitas. Che is Iglesias’ latest bulletin :a totally fun wry send up of Guevaramania, that’s still alive, (believe it or not) in some circles decades after the Cuban Revolution’s cutest thug got himself shot dead. The artist reflects his devilishly satirical paintings from tattoo and revolutionary posters, Che T shirts and some glitz and glam. Bottom line: a spirited poke at the Che cult, but a swipe as wellat mass media ”outsider” merchandising.
Bill Clarke/ LoLa 03
If I see more frat boy wearing Che Guevara T shirts I’m going to scream. One day after I saw this show, I counted seven Che t shirts in two hours! Are these guys actually familiar with Guevara”s polaticsof geurilla warfare or are they just wanna be rebels who think che is Cubas answer to james dean?
But I doigress. This show wasn’t about the Cuban revolutionary at al! Raffael Iglesias was born in El Salvador and is currently working out of Toronto Canada. Iglesias Explains that Che means Pal or Bud and used as a greeting.Bing added in the form of shoinny star and rocket stickers and what you have here on the surfacew anyway, is a splashy mixed media crash course in in hip Hispanic culture. Still I couldn’t help notoice that the works were bright red – the colour of blood.
Toronto Star Peter Goddard
Mar 27, 2008
VISUAL ARTS CRITIC
There's a good chance Iglesias, an El Salvador7born Toronto painter, will become an art star. He's got all that it takes: a sizzling palette, aggressive attitude, an inborn commercial sense – he's worked as a commercial billboard spray7 painter – and an entirely personal iconography that ranges from saucy Victoria's Secret catalogue figures to Latin American death fetish iconography.
Terence Dick Akimblog Love Hate/ Museum of Contemporar y Canadian Art-Toronto: Akimbo.com
July 26th, 2007
The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art has got a good thing going with their summer group shows and the current one is foolproof in its audience7baiting strategy. Love/Hate: New Crowned Glory in the GTA is purposefully contentious but diplomatically resists identifying which of the thirty participating artists are loved and which are hated; that decision is left up to the viewer. My summer crushes include painters Raffael A. Iglesias and Margaux Williamson, industrial boombox maker Steven Laurie, and asphalt artist Shelly Rahme. It’s not hard to find something you like amidst this crowd of artists; there’s even some agit7prop porn for the family!
R.M. Vaughan: The Exhibitionist Globe and Mail
October 29, 2010
Raffael Iglesias at Peak Gallery
It’s your last week to see Raffael Iglesias’s sunny, eye-popping Mil Fuegos at Peak Gallery.
Iglesias is nominally a painter, in that he goes through a lot of paint, but I consider him more of a collagist who happens to work with liquid pigment. In any given work, one finds spray-painted stencilling, reflective tape, decals and stickers, painted lettering, and no end of manipulated laminates. In complement to this happy assortment, Iglesias dapples his works with an array of outlined images carried from canvas to canvas, his own set of personal hieroglyphics: skulls dance with spaceships, stars and hearts encircle images of Astroboy, and hotrod flames engulf butterflies and arrows.
Like Anne-Laure Djaballah, Iglesias makes work for people who are not afraid of excess. If you could peel all the plastered posters off a hoarding and stare at the layers simultaneously, with X- ray specs, the sight might be half as mesmerizing as Iglesias’s carnivals.