Robert Raphael’s ceramic-based work draws on the complex history of decorative art, a tradition that intersects and runs parallel to the history of art. Rather than interpreting ornamentation as superficial, Raphael believes that the strength of decoration lies in its seductive nature and the complex meanings that often result when surface, mass, pattern, and cultural history conflate.
For the installation at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Raphael’s work focuses on classical ornamentation and its prevalence from historical time through to contemporary society. The title Symposium refers to the Ancient Greek social practice, where men gathered to debate, plot, boast, or simply revel with others. The practice provided both an artistic and intellectual environment as well as a potentially debaucherous celebration. Raphael’s installation presents a series of porcelain sculptures inspired by classical elements. The juxtaposition of the pieces creates a conversation among the sculptures, which helps to transform the space of the terrace into an architectural folly.
Robert Raphael lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He is a 2013 alum of the Bronx Museum's emerging artist program Artist in the Marketplace (AIM). Recent exhibitions of note include: Ceramics: A Concept of Function, LMAK Gallery, NY; Foreign/Domestic, Calico Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; and Torn and Fired, Outlet, Brooklyn, NY. Selected residencies include: The Shigaraki Ceramic Sculpture Park, Japan; Illinois State University Visiting Artist Program, IL; and International Ceramic Research Center, Denmark.
Robert Raphael: Symposium is made possible, in part, by the Director’s Circle, a leading Bronx Museum support group.