Sunday, December 03, 2006

Art Space Talk: Rafael Navarro

I recently interviewed artist Rafael Navarro. Mr. Navarro works by instinct. He works with an internal dialogue that he can't ignore. His ideas dictate the medium he chooses to work with. Thus, he builds a strong relationship between the images and the materials used for their creation.

Mr. Navarro draws inspiration from his childhood memories, personal observations, and cultural heritage. He is known for altering these ideas by taking a different approach with various materials. This results in works that communicate in a poetic manner.

Rafael pays tribute to women with his art. Themes of conception and the birth of new life are common in his work. These visual themes flow like music set to the backdrop of the evolution of life.

Brian Sherwin: Rafael, when did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

Rafael Navarro: Since early age I just kept being drawn to my set of pencils and modeling clay, I remember just getting lost on my thoughts during playtime. But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that art was an important part of my life. I deeply regret it not to have it realized long time ago, I never met an artist growing up so I didn’t think it was possible to be one.

BS: How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

RN: This is a very difficult question, I don’t know if art shapes you as a person or it is something that already exists in you, and art just brings all your human qualities afloat, it makes you more aware of your surroundings. All your senses absorb information, the stimuli of the environment and triggers something in you.

BS: Rafael, how has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

RN: My work deals more with the cycle of life. For now I keep to myself my social views, perhaps in the future I would explore more the crazy society we live.

BS: What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

RN: Sure, we all at some point we have been inspired by other artists, the first artist that left an impression on me was Rene Magritte, when I was a kid in Mexico City, I saw a documentary on TV about his life. Other artists that have left an impression on me are Picasso and Henry Moore between others.

BS: Rafael, tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

RN: I was born and raised in Mexico City, I am the oldest of five kids, we all had artistic inclinations but only one of my brothers and I pursued it, my brother works as a graphic designer in Mexico City. Yes, sometimes you can see the influence of my Mexican heritage, specifically the symbolisms of the cycle of life that keeps appearing on my work. But I would like to think of art as universal.

BS: How long have you been a working artist?

RN: I started making art more seriously around 1993, when I started entering my work in juried group shows, thanks to the encouragement of some friends.

BS: Rafael, if you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

RN: People with an open mind that tends to move away of the ordinary, they tend to be interested in finding out not only about my art but also they seem to be interested to know me as a person.

BS: Rafael, can you tell us about your artistic process?

RN: My ideas come from things I see or hear, my mind creates an image that evolves with time until it is ready to become more tangible. I admire artists that are able to keep a sketchbook, I would keep trying but it hasn’t work for me. I keep my ideas in my head, there is where my ideas get polished or get scraped.

BS: Rafael, why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

RN: The idea dictates the medium. Sometimes I experiment with the same idea using different materials, colors and textures, I try to make it visually exciting. I work on wood, ceramic, metal, fabric and found objects. I would like to experiment some day with cast glass and also with stone, these are mediums I never have worked before.

BS: Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how has it helped your art career?

RN: I don’t have an art degree, I am sort of a "self-taught artist", I have taken few art classes, I have worked with other artists and experimented on my own, my knowledge comes from the sum of all these experiences combined. I can agree that you don’t need an art degree to become an artist, but art education can give you more confidence and guidance, it can give you the tools to express yourself, that’s what I personally got from the few classes I have taken, I also enjoy being around other creative minds. Maybe someday I will be back to the classrooms.

BS: Where can we see more of your art?

RN: You can visit my website, and if you are near to where I am showing, I usually have information of my art exhibitions in my web page.,

BS: Rafael, are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
I have some friends that show my pieces sometimes at their gallery in Cave Creek, AZ, but for now I like to be independent. Right now I am showing at The Herberger Theater Center art gallery here in Downtown Phoenix and it will be running until January 1st, 2007. Also I am having a group show on the First Friday of December of 2006 at Tilt Gallery in Downtown Phoenix. For more information visit my website at

BS: Do you have any advice for other artists?

RN: Never stop learning, expose yourself to all kinds of cultural events, and experiment with new techniques.

BS: Rafael, has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

RN: Not really, I have had people that right away decide that are not interested or make a quick judgment about my work, and that is OK, you cannot make everybody happy. I think it’s more damaging when we censor ourselves.

BS: What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock bottom?

RN: Being an artist hasn’t been easy, it has being difficult to make a living from it, I have tried to stay away of the art I as much as I can, and because my stubbornness of staying true to myself I have suffered and I have starved. Many in this career move away to do other things that brings income to their families, which I think is a very understandable and necessary thing to do, but at the same time it is very sad. This society still doesn’t value its artists as much as it should. I also have moved away from art and I keep coming back to it, I always come back.

BS: In one sentence... why do you create art?

RN: Art is a very important part of my life, it keeps me centered and motivated.

BS: Finally, what can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

RN: The art scene in Phoenix, Arizona is still growing, and I am happy to see that. It has been moving away from the southwest art, created mainly for tourists to a something more diverse. We have art events called First Fridays every month and Art Detour which is one weekend a year in Downtown Phoenix, they started with only few art spaces and now there are about a bit more of a hundred art galleries and art studios showing art for all tastes. Certainly has revitalized this area once abandoned. My only fear is that, along have came the developers, and the prices of real state have been rising up, so my biggest fear is that many artist are not going to afford to have a studio here and we are going to have to move somewhere else.

Take a look to another interview and to what is happening in the Phoenix art scene: "

You can learn more about Rafael Navarro by visiting his website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page-- Rafael is involved with the beinArt International Surreal Art Collective.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

No comments: