PAINTINGS / REFAEL SALEM
MODEL / ALEX NESTOR
ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHY / ARMANDO FREZZE
TXT / JAVIER R. CRUZ
FOR DOOPLER MAGAZINE
This talented young artist, works and lives in Israel. His paintings mainly deal with youth, fears, and anxiety, harmony as well as disharmony with nature, youthful adventures, and romance versus loneliness derived from personal experiences and memories.
Refael received the Bezalel art department award and the America-Israel cultural foundation award and his work has been exhibited both locally and internationally.
He uses his paintings as an escape, an alternative reality, to which, you can run to and feel free. You can see this in his vast landscapes or in the characters he depicts, who allow themselves to be as naked as the day they were born; free to do anything they want, confident about their sexuality and experiencing the joy of youth to the fullest.
The boys in his paintings are lost in their own make believe world, captured in intimate moments from a world influenced by fantasy or legend – leftovers of something that no longer exists or never was, looking for their path surrounded by wild nature. His work is also influenced by fairy tales and heroes stories (such as King Arthur);
The adventure filled narrative offers the characters a base to explore their thoughts, dreams and admissions very much like Peter Pen’s lost boys. Although the scenario’s in which they find themselves captured are often quite harsh, dramatic and even tragic – their fragility, sensitivity and boyish- naïve charm create a contrast that is meant to intensify their experience. This offers Refael a way to look deep inside gender identity, confront stereotypes, clichés and the problems of living in the shadow of ideals. The lost expression in the boy’s eyes hints at the pain and sadness of chasing perfection.
Often the surrounding portrays a mysterious place loaded with details yet devoid of particular time or space, like a frozen moment. Much like the character, the environment around them is deep, intimate, inviting and the interaction between the two (the boys and Mother Nature) intensifies their beauty and suggests of both their vulnerability and fragileness.
His art is a subtle way for him to share his secrets, in his words: “I find myself exposing certain sides that I would otherwise keep to myself probably. Art and the act of painting specifically, allow me to shine a light on different layers and aspects of myself – concentrate on a different layer with each painting and, the more I paint, the more secrets are revealed.”
For more on Refael and his work check out his website: