The potent mix of abstraction and figuration in Raho’s work elucidates one of the key aspects of his approach to painting, in which he makes the issue of ‘style’, in all its senses, a central element. The way Raho toys with different modes of painting, adopting either hard-edged, photo-based realism or misty romanticism in the pastoral tradition of Constable and Turner, mirrors the politics of taste and style as played out by his sitters. The figures’ manner of dress and pose, the repeated reference to fashion imagery and the geographical array of places all tend to convey the fantasy of aspiration as much as reality. Raho not only captures who we are but, more importantly, who we want to be or who we want to appear to be. In this sense, Raho is truly a painter of modern life.’
- Nicholas Cullinan. Alessandro Raho. London: Lund Humphries, 2011
Alison Jacques Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of recent paintings by Alessandro Raho (b. Nassau, Bahama, 1971). This will be the artist’s fourth exhibition at the gallery.
Alessandro Raho’s paintings include portraits of his friends or members of his family, portrait commissions, and landscapes. Using oil paint Raho works from photographically derived images which he renders in his own unique style. A sense of design underpins the strong naturalism apparent in all of his work. By carefully selecting every element of his subject’s attire from blue nail polish to vintage Louis Vuitton dresses to baby blue Snoopy T-shirts Raho cleverly integrates urban culture and iconography with classical portraiture.
Against his signature contemporary white background Raho focuses closely in on select details whilst subtly fading other others out. He captures a gaze, expression, or an article of clothing in a unique and simplified way, purposefully flattening the image whilst simultaneously exposing his process of painting. In Bryan Ferry (2014) Raho depicts his tweed coat with shorthand, indicating the stitches he had observed in Frans Hals and Edouard Manet paintings. Ferry’s slightly pensive pose exposes a blue tie and jacket, suggested with a single stroke of yellow ochre. In Ben (2013) the subject is wearing a pink T-shirt, consumed with a red ‘Moschino’ heart. The bright red heart and equally vibrant blue pants seem to pop forwards in primary contrast whilst the pinkness of his shirt is reflected in his cheeks and lips. In Jessica(2013) the black lines of her geometrically pattered dress direct the viewer across the composition - to black tights, white ballet flats and a direct and confident gaze.
Alessandro Raho was born in Nassau, Bahamas in 1971 and graduated from Goldsmiths College, London in 1994. Recent exhibitions include I Cheer A Dead Man's Sweetheart, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhil-on-Sea (2014); Knock Knock, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (2013); Painting Show, Eastside Gallery, Birmingham (2011). Currently Patrick De Brock Gallery in Knokke is exhibiting new paintings by Alessandro Raho in his first solo show at the gallery. Raho’s work is included in public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Seattle Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, London where Raho’s Portrait of Judi Dench is currently being exhibited. In 2011, Lund Humphries published a monograph on the work of Alessandro Raho with essays by Michael Bracewell and Nicholas Cullinan, recently appointed Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London.