Rafael Alonso is an up-and-coming Brazilian artist from Rio de Janeiro, who was commissioned by the Science Museum to create artwork for their recent exhibition The Sun: Living With Our Star.
He studied at Escola de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro and is currently working towards a PhD in Visual Languages. He has previously exhibited work in Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Niterói, Paço Imperial, Paços das Artes and Centro Cultural São Paulo, all in Brazil. He has also participated in group shows in Portugal, Germany, France, and the USA among others.
In 2011, Rafael was awarded the FUNARTE prize for Contemporary Art, and has been nominated for this year’s PIPA Prize, Brazil’s most prominent prize in the Visual Arts.
‘Very Nice’ captures the mood of a warm summer evening, evoking the sunset on the horizon. It blends and contrasts distinct shapes and bold colours with the abstract – mimicking our understanding and reliance on the Sun both scientifically and philosophically – the tangible and the illusive.
We spoke to Rafael about his work and his piece ‘Very Nice’ that he created in light of The Sun: Living With Our Star…
SCIENCE MUSEUM: Tell us a bit about yourself.
RAFAEL ALONSO: I’m 35 years old and I grew up in Niterói (in the State of Rio de Janeiro). I now live and work in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
SM: What inspired you to become an artist?
RA: I do what I do because I believe it’s the most authentic way of dealing with my fascinations, passions, quirks, insecurities, vanity, and fears. In a way, my work responds to internal questions. So, I believe I became an artist because I was inspired by the possibility of understanding myself and, in some way, the world in which I live.
SM: How do you feel art and science complement each other?
RA: I believe that both science and art are tools which allow us to be in touch with – and somehow provide answers to – our concerns as human beings.
SM: How would you describe your work?
RA: In my works I suggest negotiations between day-to-day life and the practice of painting. ‘Very Nice’ is part of a series of prints in which I investigate the possible intersections between painting and the ordinary imagination of the tropics. These harmonies nearly always consist in pure, ultra-luminous warm colours, which belong to a visual lexicon commonly associated with the idea of joy, fortune, and fertility. Here, they are confronted so to propose unexpected articulations.
SM: How do you want people to feel when they see ‘Very Nice’?
RA: I wouldn’t want to tell people how to feel when in contact with my work, but I can give you my personal testimony. ‘Very Nice’ reminds me of my childhood and adolescence at the city’s beaches, and of the endless television and video game sessions I had in the flat in which we used to live. It makes me somewhat fascinated and intoxicated by the radiance of the colours which are almost as bright as light.
Header image: Very Nice by Rafael Alonso, 2018, commissioned for the exhibition The Sun: Living With Our Star. © Science Museum Group