ARTIST STATEMENT RAFAEL DIEZ
“What we worship in the human body is more than its beautiful shape; it is the inward flame that seems to illuminate it, to shine through it.”- Rodin
The representation of the figure has fascinated artists for thousands of years. It’s beauty is breathtaking.
Naked, you are blue as a night in Cuba
You have vines and stars in your hair
Naked, you are spacious and yellow
As summer in a golden church.
Morning -Pablo Neruda
“The artist discovers in the nude a profound link with the pureness of being...sensuality stimulates creativity in every sense. Sensuality evokes love, passion and the creation of man. This is why nudity moves us so profoundly. “ Ariano Cavalcanti de Paula
I am a sensualist. Like Monet and his cathedrals, I am obsessed with the female form. I want my figures to be like cathedrals, full of warm light and mystery. The best art is personal and confessional. I love women.
I am very inspired by Indian culture, and I especially find the Taj Mahal to be the most sensual architectural wonder in the world. As a tribute to a beautiful woman and as a monument for enduring love, the Taj reveals its subtleties when one visits it without being in a hurry. The rectangular base of Taj is in itself symbolic of the different sides from which to view a beautiful woman. The main gate is like a veil to a woman’s face which should be lifted delicately, gently and without haste on the wedding night. In indian tradition the veil is lifted gently to reveal the beauty of the bride. As one stands inside the main gate of Taj, his eyes are directed to an arch which frames the Taj.
The dome is made of white marble, but the tomb is set against the plain across the river and it is this background that works its magic of colours that, through their reflection, change the view of the Taj. The colours change at different hours of the day and during different seasons. Like a jewel, the Taj sparkles in moonlight when the semi-precious stones inlaid into the white marble on the main mausoleum catch the glow of the moon. The Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden when the moon shines. These changes, they say, depict the different moods of woman.
Bruce Springsteen says that “love is an angel disguised as lust”. This is a big theme in my work, desire. Desire is a mad beast that stalks its prey. When else does someone see us as totally powerful, totally beautiful? We all want to feel wanted.
Nuala O’Faolain: “Someday you may feel a wonderful thing called passionate desire, and if you do, it is going to half kill you. Carmen was murdered for it. Tristan and Isolde stopped the world for it. Humbert ruined Lolita for it. Antony lost an empire when Cleopatra made him burn with it. It sinks its claws into both man and woman, into rich and poor. Desire is dangerous. More dangerous than feeling desire is being the one desired.”
My approach is loose and instinctive, primitive and modern. My influences are too many to name, but here are a few: Rodin’s erotic watercolors, Carbonell’s figurative sculptures, the giant figures of Matisse, Boccioni’s futuristic sculptures, Jamali’s dreamlike visions, Pollock’s kamikaze linework, Lachaise’s big lyrical women, Modigliani’s delicious nudes, Eugene Leroy, calligraphy, typography, poetry, photography, cinematography, fashion, folk art, dance, Cuba.
Perceptions about beauty and self image reflect our culture’s obsession with perfection. Women! Take ownership of your bodies and be proud of your size and shape. Men! Stop objectifying women as sex objects and nothing more. The sad reality is that worth is linked to appearance. I’d like to challenge society’s archetypes- that ideal self we all want to be.
The people who love my work are sensual people. They appreciate beauty and the human form, and are open about nudity as an art form. They have healthy attitudes about sex and its healing power of intimacy. Being nude is not about weakness, it is about strength and ownership. It is not something to be ashamed of. The nude figure is about vulnerability and not about perfection.
I am interested in changing people’s perceptions about women’s bodies. There is a self image problem in our society. If you see certain images over and over you become used to them. Images reinforce stereotypes. Words and pictures affect behavior and self image, and advertisers know this. Many women don’t like their bodies, because they don’t look like the bodies they see in magazines. More examples of different types of women are needed. The sad reality is that worth is linked to appearance. Society has its own ideas and standards of beauty. We want perfect people up on those billboards.
I have a personal goal and that is to change peoples ideas about the human body. I have never understood why nudity offends people. Nudity is an act of bravery, of supreme confidence. It involves trust, and reveals the persons intimate self, exposing one’s physical, emotional, and mental dimensions. Why does Janet Jackson’s breast cause such controversy? Breasts are lovely, and breasts are symbols of love and nourishment, abundance and receptivity, safety and protection that has been revered in all cultures.
People need to have a sense of humor about sex. I’m a big collector of vintage Playboy cartoons. That magazine changed America. It gave America an open attitude towards nudity, a healthy and liberating attitude that nudity does not equal pornography. Sex is a huge part of people’s lives, why pretend it’s not? At its best, nudes can be high art. When it doesn’t work, it can seem vulgar and cheap. Nudes evoke strong feelings, and can make people uncomfortable. The human form is complex and subtle and always alive.Yet many people would not hang a nude in their houses because they feel it sets a bad example for their kids or guests. Art is banned because it is seen as sexual, gets labeled as harmful or not appropriate. Many collectors have told me they are happy to see other body types represented- it is rare to see full figured women in our culture.
Women’s bodies have a strange power on men…and women.
I love strong heroic women. I always admired Wonder Woman because she was the first female superheroe who did not need to be rescued. She fought the Nazi’s, she was an Amazon, she had a patriotic sexy uniform ,bullet reflecting bracelets and a lasso of truth. She was not a helpless sex object. Lois Lane was always being saved by Superman, but not Wonder Woman. She was saving the four star General!
My women are exotic, and like the Amazons, fiercely independent. Women are the creators of life, it’s that simple. That is a power men don’t understand. This might be the origin of my fascination towards women. The Goddess figure, the femme fatale, the mother figure, the healer...there are many heroic sides to a woman. I’m not sure why my women have big butts, maybe a psychologist can tell me one day. I like to exxagerate hips and butts because physically, that to me is what is most female so maybe there’s my answer. Men are angles and edges, women are circles and curves.
I like Brancusi’s philosophy the best: Eliminate the non essential; it’s about the total purity of form.
About the Artist:
Rafael Diez teaches full time at The International Academy of Design & Technology in Orlando, as well as at Crealdé Art School in Winter Park.
Exhibitions: Gallery M, Orlando Museum of Art, Winter Park Fine Art, City Hall, Open House for Artist, OVAL, OCA, Metromen Spa, Bryan Anthony, Wave, Art House, etc.
Thank you to all those people who helped me make this happen, my parents, my brother, my sisters, my family, friends, my college, and my framer….