Joseph Raffael


MOVING TOWARD THE LIGHT
Watercolors by Joseph Raffael
CANTON MUSEUM OF ART
1001 MARKET AVENUE NORTH , CANTON, OH 44702 330.453.7666, cantonart.org
DECEMBER 3 TO MARCH 6

At Home in the Garden

Long overdue is a touring retrospective devoted to Joseph Raffael (b. 1933), who works primarily in watercolors depicting flowers, water, and fish swimming in ornamental ponds. Huge in scale, his luminous, brilliantly colored sheets beckon us with what seem to be abstract shapes, but as we approach we realize that every detail has been worked out carefully. Raffael is legendary among watercolorists, though he shrugs off their adulation modestly: “Watercolors have a mind of their own. I just need to show up and be present.”

He creates these close-ups on the French Riviera, where his wife, Lannis, cultivates their garden. But Raffael asserts, “I don’t paint flowers; I paint energy.” Growing up in Brooklyn, he helped his mother with the fruits, vegetables, and flowers in her victory garden, where he came to regard the changing of seasons as a form of alchemy and magic: “Seeing blossoms come alive is the same as watching a painting come forth out of the white space of a page or a canvas. The garden is another example of how one begins with nothing but seeds and the brown-colored space of the earth from which, little by little, the garden emerges.”

The Raffael show will move to the Southern Ohio Museum in Portsmouth and finally to Michigan’s Flint Institute of Arts next summer. It is accompanied by a colorful 192-page book distributed by ACC Editions.

Joseph Raffael (b. 1933), Flower Dream, 2013, watercolor on paper, 53 x 75 1/2 in., Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York City

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