Work by Rafael Francisco Salas featured in three exhibitions

Work by Professor of Art Rafael Francisco Salas is featured in “What on Earth: Contemporary Artists and the Landscape,” an exhibit running through Feb. 12 at Portrait Society Gallery of Contemporary Art in Milwaukee.

“Work in this exhibition celebrates and underscores our environment, inching along the fault lines of climate change, polar ice cap melt, air pollution, population growth, species extinction, ocean acidification, ozone layer depletion, acid rain, over fishing, urban sprawl, deforestation, water pollution, waste production, genetic modification of crops,” the gallery states. “In much of this work, what sounds dire manages to erupt in effervescent beauty, reminding us to take care, to notice, to preserve.

David Andrews a North Carolina writer, says of Salas’ work:

“In his recent artwork Rafael Francisco Salas explores the mythology of the Midwestern landscape. He’s drawing and painting rural spaces located at an imaginary latitude north of the horizon, just shy of the real. It’s a mapping of Salas himself.

“Salas’ art makes the everyday totemic. Things feel well seen, as they are, and yet transformed. The elated face of a young child emptying a bucket of dirt onto the ground conjures the memory of childhood in its strange glory. A truck tire half buried in a grassy expanse with golden dandelions set against a dreamy gloaming sky creates a dark rainbow.

“Fall flowers in a field, funereal and joyous, make all of life — the one you live not just in your head — in its vastness and its specificity feel manifest. This Midwestern landscape has become Salas’ interiority, its patterns and places as intimate as emotions. As if he’s discovered the inside of outside. …

“Salas’ artwork creates a space for contemplation and reflection, figures the relationship between identity and otherness, nature, nation, and nurture, of hauntings both personal and historical, and its operatic realism rewards close looking. “

  • Work by Salas also will be featured Jan. 23 through May 2 in a solo exhibition, “In Flowered Fields,“ at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, St. Kate: The Arts Hotel, in Milwaukee. Salas’ pairs his work with examples from the museum’s permanent collection to “create a dialogue that includes a milieu of Wisconsin artists present and past.”

    As part of this exhibit, Salas will show rarely-seen works from MOWA’s permanent collection and talk about the tradition of Wisconsin landscape painting and his exhibition as part of a live stream on Facebook and YouTube.

  • His work was included in the online “The Art Club Exhibition” of the Frank Juarez Gallery in Milwaukee. The work are the culmination of an informal gathering of artists who met and critiqued each other over the summer via Zoom because of the pandemic.

(Photo: “In Flowered Fields: Autumn,” by Rafael Francisco Salas)

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