Rafael Perez has won the People’s Choice Award in conjunction with the Signature Art Prize 2015. The People’s Choice Award is run through Facebook and is down to the public to vote for their favourite piece. This time, Rafael Perez’s sculpture ‘You and I’ crafted from wax and latex took home the prize with the most amount of votes. Here we find out a little more about Rafael’s practice and why he chose the sculpture to best display his signature style.
How does it feel to have won the Signature Art Prize for the People's Choice Award?
Fantastic. At this point in my career, to see that people like and support my practice is simply great. Having won it in London as well, a different city from where I am based, means that my work is reaching a new audience, which is one of my main objectives as an artist.
How do you feel the prize benefits up and coming artists?
It is a great title to have. The People's Choice award is based on the public's opinion and taste, rather than a board of judges. The work is being judged and tested by an actual audience. It is definitively a great reference to have when it comes to applying for commissions or Arts Council funding, since most of the time these are mostly drawn to work that has been proven to attract the public.
Why did you pick your entry piece? How do you feel it best showcases your abilities?
I guess for something like The Signature Art Prize, one has to apply with whatever work best described their practice, their signature piece or style. I worked on this particular piece for over 3 months and is probably one of the most successful pieces I have produced so far. It definitively has a combination of things which I have been working very hard to achieve. The right subject, the appropriate way in which to describe it and the personal connection with the viewer.
You and I by Rafael Perez
Wax and Latex on Varnished 18mm MDF plinth
200 x 35 x 30 cm
How would you describe your signature style?
I tend to work figuratively most of the time. I believe few things speak to the viewer as much as the body does. it is a matter of who we are, of what we are. The connection is instant; it might last seconds, or a lifetime, but something clicks in the brain with the sight of a human figure, and its that particular moment of reflection that I am interested in. My practice is a constant pursue for expressing deep human emotions through sculpture. Lately I have been more focused on 'Time' as a subject, and searching for a way to express it without the use of a verbal explanation. The piece 'You and I' which won the prize, is a conversation between age and beauty, an attempt to capture the definition of time through the melting of the wax.
What's your process when you go about creating your work?
It all starts on the base of some past experience or a memory. I then transform that personal experience into something more general so that everyone can relate to or identify themselves with. I am passionate about the communication that exists between a work of art and the viewer.
Once the idea is clear, I move onto sketching. Quick ideas on paper appear up until something special comes along and I decide to push it further. Sometimes that design is taken onto digital coloring for testing; other times I just simply jump ahead and start collecting materials and looking for the right model for body casting. After that, it is a matter of patience and dedication until I feel it is ready.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
Materials that age with time are particularly interesting to me. I tend to work with plaster and concrete, speeding up the drying time by elevating the room temperature which makes the outside layer dry quicker and crack, giving the piece a lovely texture to work on.
Lately I have been creating a body of work using wax and latex. Two materials which behave very interesting together creating some outstanding organic color as a result. I like to try new things, mix certain materials which are not meant to be mixed and find out what happens, how they react and the textures they create.
What do you plan to do now?
I have recently moved to a new studio in Manchester. It is a much larger space filled with very talented people. I look forward to creating in the new space and hopefully collaborating with some talented people. Recently I have been very interested in the idea of making a public sculpture. I would very much like to produce a piece to be allocated somewhere public, not necessarily permanently, but testing my work outside, rather than indoors. I would also want to get more involved in the London Art scene as well. Look for more opportunities to exhibit there and keep reaching a larger audience.
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