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“A bad person can be a good artist, but only a good person can be an amazing artist.” —Raphael Delgado

The Delgadonian Principle

Inside the extraordinary mind of Raphael Delgado

See How He Made The Magazine Painting: http://youtu.be/ jYKJNmr_xD4

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september ‘11


by Christopher Karne Frost

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randpa was an Egg-man, and so too might Raphael Delgado had been if not for his profound interest in the shape and soul of the very eggs he held. For even at arms length the eggs appear soft, smooth and clean, bent for windshields and frying pans, but not the tales

of The Beastie Boys and Soundgarden who also saw more in the egg than did the common man. For upon closer inspection, one finds upon the egg a surface pockmarked and scarred, as the history of our lives will one day dictate, and within these historic walls, the very elixir that is life can be found.

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trength and stability are not terms often used in association with the egg, but indeed they are often associated with the man and artist that is Raphael Delgado. And in the quest to know him, the most timeless of all questions may indeed be “which came first - the chicken or the egg?” And per the magnet clinging to our refrigerator, it is the chicken proudly proclaiming it was he who came first, as he lays in bed with the egg drawing on a post coitus cigarette. Per the mind inside the artist’s head, he claims not to know which came first-the elixir that made him or that which he makes. Though a grown-up of great distinction today, Raphael was once a boy birthed from an egg himself, though not of the feather laid I assure you. Raphael Delgado came to be in Orangevale, California, exploring the fields and by-ways of the world amongst fruit-tree addled fields, well-worn trucks and American flags. His parents were both involved in art: his father owning a gallery and his mother being an artist herself. Now a man of three decades, he laughs at memories of 4th grade Catholic School when his teachers would often confiscate his drawings and doodlings, pieces of himself that so ruled his attention. He told me about one of the very same teachers recently, who contacted him to proclaim they still had some of his doodle stains on paper, as it was glowingly evident even then, there was more to this boy than met the eye. Coincidentally, there are several of Raphael’s pieces that contain a stained glass influence, perhaps from these days surrounded by the imagery of Catholicism and their Houses of the Holy. september ‘11

Photos by Meagan Lucy, 2011

Ironically, there is in him a profound curiosity for physics, science, mathematics and neurology, an alchemist’s chaos and balance of positive and negative energies. His interest in the history of art, and more so his hunger to extract what he states, as “what the Ancients had,” is most intriguing, otherworldly even, and in our discussions I could not help but believe he is, if not directly hard wired into, then at least has two fingers on the pulse of that which makes up the very energy we are and live in. An insatiable curiosity resides in Raphael for the meaning of life and what makes the world go round, an innocence of curiosity in the mind of a modern day philosopher. His proclivity to infuse both negative and positive energies in his art

creates worlds within frames that have no borders. So too can you see the physical manifestation of his manipulations by the cuts, scrapes and scratches he gouges in many of his pieces. They appear as a desire, a longing to slide within the depths and boundless spaces between the layers. I think that if he could crawl within the frame and strike, swing, stab and pull from within that he would. No sooner did this thought occur to me that I knew, realizing without any doubt - he had explored between the layers, in each and every one of his works. This brought me back to something Raphael had said earlier in our discussions, how “art is not what it looks like, but what is feels like.” He further went on to explain that when creating a piece he does not set out leadingpossibilities


with a specific goal in mind, but instead births the art forth and then gleans the idea of how long it will live. Again: life in art, much as the egg. As I toured Raphael’s extraordinary studio space in the old Pottery warehouse off a well-used portion of the Sacramento Light Rail system in midtown Sacramento, I saw how creation is a task and achievement oft associated with godlike or at least spiritually inspired people, or something else entirely – a “Creativore – A being with an insatiable hunger to create.” A term Raphael birthed, and one that fits him as well as his own skin. Raphael engaged my mind on many channels and quickly had me “seeing” art, whereas before I would not even be looking for it, such as the panels of 18-wheelers rolling down the highway and the cracked and broken windshield of a neighboring SUV. In wondering where this newfound vision came, I recalled how passionate and determined Raphael was in explaining how beauty can be found in everything; in me he instilled this craving and passion, too. For I learned one only has to look closely enough. And though it may take some manipulation, perhaps some color and love or a cut here or there, the beauty can be found, and he aims to show the world this very fact. We had so much in common: me with the words and he with the lines. His knack and enjoyment in creating tools for a single stroke or arch in his work was no less interesting than the finished pieces themselves. It was as though art was creating art by the pieces laid out before him. And the many styles of art redolent in the majority of his work were a cacophony of styles entwined as one. Perhaps his unique style will one day be labeled all its own as a Delgadonian? This brought my mind round to another “Creativore” – Dr. Frankenstein. There is no one else I can more closely relate Raphael to other than the Doctor of Mary Shelly’s legend of old. Both had, or have, an unquenchable desire to create life from that which is otherwise dead, and to bring forth beauty, where before there was only ruin, in search of a spark of life in that which was without hope. leadingpossibilities

at a glance: raphael delgado Official website: http://www.artbyraphael.com/artist_raphael_delgado.php American painter b.1981 Raphael Delgado was born in Oxnard, California in 1981. He is the second of five children, three of them born after his family relocated to Sacramento in 1984. His parents owned and operated a gallery and custom frame business while he was a child, and Raphael spent much time there drawing and daydreaming. He was raised in rural Orangevale, but his adolescent summers were spent working with his maternal grandfather Stranded, oil on canvas, circa 2000 delivering fresh eggs in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Each summer he worked 8-hour days and quietly studied the vibrant murals and burgeoning street art scene of the eighties and early nineties. Raphael produced and parted ways with several bodies of work throughout high school, although his attention was mainly focused on wrestling and football. During his senior year, his first set of high-quality oil paints and brushes were graciously donated, officially ending his athletic career.

Find Raphael on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ profile.php?id=520415063

While attending Fullerton College, he became fascinated with the principals of cubism, surrealism, and abstract expressionism, as well as physics and biology. In 2001 his first art exhibition was held, his work an infusion of much of these principals. Later, at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, he would further explore cubism and also begin printmaking. Raphael was featured in several art festivals and student shows, living and working in a fifth floor studio hovering over San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, bartending to eat and living alone for three years while creating his “String Theory” method and “Scraped Drawing” technique. In 2005 he suffered a devastating loss when his entire body of academic work, along with several dozen paintings, which were unjustly destroyed and egregiously stolen by his landlords while he was out of town. Utterly devastated and with only a few surviving pieces, he moved back to Sacramento and was back at square one. In 2006 he was vindicated in court and he opened up his own private art studio and gallery, which he operated from 2006 –2010. Currently living and working in Sacramento, Raphael has become a leading regional abstractionist and was recently named the Arts & Business Council’s “Artist of the Year” in 2010, due in part to his Crayons to Canvas Art Supply Drive. His unique artwork is included in numerous private collections throughout the United States, and he maintains and satisfies a very loyal collector base in Sacramento. He is an ardent believer in the effectiveness of art therapy for kids and positive sense of self worth it gives to children. He also donates his work to benefit such organizations as The Stanford Home for Children, Susan G. Komen Foundation, and KVIE. His current work is a departure from his cubist figures and portraits. Depopulated, his new geometric jewel-like paintings are active and imagined interior spaces, in which light, mass, energy, distance, force, and velocity are expressed using clearly delineated angular shapes, atmospheric drizzles of paint , and vibrant colors paired with weighty neutrals. Both perplexing and beautiful, his churning images are unmistakably urban and constructed with a combination of lyrical line work and bold painterly planes.Alluding also to geological and organic imagery, transfixed trails of paint fall somewhere between the bursting shards of color, streaming directional trails, bold planes, and the infinite distance.The images of Raphael’s work, which are inherently vivid in the Millenium Scepter, the iconic piece commissioned by Tracy Saville for this magazine and her body of work in personal mastery, are at once chaotic, but well organized, futuristic, and yet familiar. How apropos. How very human. How complex and quixotic, just like the artist himself. september ‘11


“I want to be successful through my originality, it’s my slime — all mine. And with art being the residue of my life, if thick enough, then its life will be ever-lasting.” —Raphael Delgado

The Doctor had his scalpels, wires, coils and straps. Raphael has his knives, brushes, pens and paints. They both utilize their tools to spark life from death. As Raphael had stated to me in one of his many Delgadonianisms, “Break the rules, have none, for by not having them I am given an edge,” I would like to believe this same thought did occur to the good Doctor F himself. I asked of Raphael if there were any artists of old for whom he found inspiration and he readily listed; Guayasamin, Oddnerdrum, Picasso, Miro, the Mexican Muralists Segados, Riggetis and Roscoe, as well the expressionists of the 1950’s. In further discussion as to where his inspiration developed, we did turn again to life and the daily grind. His art is often a depiction of his trials and tribulations. At times birthed from positive Madonna, oil on canvas, 2004 experiences and other times inspired from the dark and side of the world speaks out and seeks to negative turmoil, the spaces between enlighten by the energies he feels from that most people would sooner forget, the souls lost and tortured in another Raphael finds in them nourishment for land. In the Haitian’s continual struggle the canvas or the clay within his hands. for peace and freedom, so too could And not only is it personal experience, Raphael only find his by laying the debut also that which he sees taking place mons and the innocent victims to canvas, in the world. therefore freeing his own mind. There were several pieces seemingly If it were only so simple for the sewn together with wire and sinew, peoples depicted. dappled with pupil-less eyes, shadowed Yet for all his otherworldly good figures and phantasmal limbs seeking, works, Raphael does help locally, too, in striving from the darkness, and bordering his own way, by teaching art to K–5th from without, as well as within, an infugraders, where he finds open minds with sion of color and life in something which a willingness to seek and learn. at first seemed so dark, dismal and of the He has many parents from St. grave. These pieces were inspired by the Michaels sending their children to learn happenings in Haiti, the unending chaos from him that he takes great honor in. that serves the people of a torn country. Teaching the fundamentals of line, form, Unknown to them, a man on the other shape and light, sharing his skill-set and september ‘11

shaping young minds, showing children it is cool to be an artist, while utilizing his mind’s eye as an outlet for his caring soul to affect and mold the world around him. He shared of his nephew Rene, and Boo Boo, and niece Mary Stella who refer to him as Ada, and of the love and interest he has in seeing them learn and grow. So to do the children of his tutoring catch his eye and blossom from his soul. Raphael instructs each of the children - “do not be afraid to sign your name to your work, but only do so if you have done your very best.” Wanting them to take honor in their work and have pride in their accomplishments, he instructs his students with a mantra for life of his own being “Live Artfully.” Very poetic. As I drove home from our interview I felt drunk - visually and spiritually. And was certain that had a Highway Patrol pulled next to me he would have noticed that though a person sat behind the wheel, he was certainly not home, so who was driving? And the blue and red lights would begin flashing to mix with the visions I was theorizing. So that is how I cruised, happily stuck behind an 18 Wheeler on Highway 50, picturing the rear doors as a smirking Tiki-God of steel and glass lights, smiling and teasing me at the sauciness of my mind. I do hope that others can experience Raphael’s art, be it of stained glass souls seeking freedom where darkness surrounds them in infinite spaces, or lost visions and nature gone awry. Thank you Raphael for the all-natural high. May your Delgadonian works be forever inspirational… lp See more of Raphael and his work on page 21. leadingpossibilities


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