Raphael Tiberino




Forced into Descent

 Between Good and Evil
Works by Raphael Tiberino at the New Arts Salon

article by Frank Barczak

Raphael Tiberino is one of Philadelphia's most active artists, helping to organize art happenings and events at clubs, universities, restaurants and galleries. Although he absorbs himself in his pen and ink drawings and paintings, he is a muralist at heart. The aspect of public involvement in this type of work intrigues him.

"People are so used to seeing art at the point of completion that they don't realize all the work that goes into bringing it to that point. I want people to realize that art contains the soul of the artist. I believe that murals being executed in public places with that in mind opens eyes," says Raphael.

So with this need to create in the public eye, he has participated in and helped to organize many group exhibitions in which the focus has been on viewer involvement. The most recent of these happenings took place in the Atrium at the Levy gallery and was titled "Off the Wall". Artists involved in the show were Akinsheye Brown, Juan Gomez, Huston Ripley and Tiberino. Each artist selected a wall and painted a mural over a two day period., inviting vistors to the Atrium on the final day to participate in the project by posing for cameo roles in the composition.

Tiberino uses his pen and ink drawings as a well of ideas to select from constantly analysing life's experiences, dreams, stories, religions, books and movies. "Always meshing together... Always seeping outward... I am never without a new image in my head, therefore I am never without a drawing book and pens."

The work that Tiberino will be showing at the New Arts Salon for the month of February is a series of original pen and ink drawings that were created after a recent journey to the west coast. Rapahel is currently wortking on assembling these images into book form. There will also be three large scale paintings in the exhibition which have been executed over the past two years.

One of the paintings 'Forced into Descent' is an image of a winged woman, and angel, being pulled down into what appears to be hell. The demons tugging at her legs are wearing masks that taunt her. It is the power of her body, her naked female form, which has kept her at this level, close enough to be touched by but not quite engulfed by the evil beneath her. It appears as if she could at any moment escape from their grasp and fly away to safety, but she has seen the other side and her innocence is lost.

There seems to be a conflict of good versus evil in Raphael's work. A striking pen and ink drawing titled 'Jesus and Lucifer' is a somewhat comical image of Jesus sitting down having a glass of wine with the Devil. They are both very powerful characters who seem to exhibit a mutual respect for each other while at the same time keeping a careful eye out. It is the body language exhibited by the two which makes this piece so interesting. Jesus is sitting in a comfortable position with his legs crossed looking very reserved. Lucifer, on the other hand, is completely relaxed, leaning way back in his chair, jacket off and looking like he has an ulterior motive for the meeting. The conflicting personae go well together.

see Recent Drawings

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