Raphael Collazo

Steve Bush [nom de plume of Ernest Acker-Gherardino], 1983

Collazo has been painting and drawing since he was a child. He started out at Pratt Children's Art School and also studied at Hudson Guild. In grade school, he was spotted by a teacher Gitta Grail, who steered him to the High School of Music and Art, where he won his diploma.

While in high school, he won a city-wide contest for painting sponsored by R. C. Cola beverage company [actually, "C & C Super Coola"]. He was featured, with full-page photos, on the front pages of several newspapers and won $500.00, first prize.

He attended the School of Visual Arts, studying Fine Arts; and subsequently attended the Art Students' League. While there, he studied painting under Morris Kantor. This beloved master had a decisive influence on him, although he also acquired considerable skills and techniques of painting from Frank Mason, another famous League teacher.

Collazo has steadily sold drawings, paintings and assemblages in the intervening years. He had a one-man show at the Santiago Gallery in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1970. The exhibition was well received and many works were sold as a result. He had subsequent one-person shows at the School of Visual Arts (1971), Victor Parker Gallery (1980) and Steve Bush Gallery (1981). This, then, is his second exhibition at Steve Bush (September 16 to October 15, 1983).

His work was purchased by Billy Baldwin, Cheryl Crawford, Jordan Massee, Alice Nelson and the San Juan Hilton.

Collazo has always been able to rely on a vivid imagination and rich invention of imagery, forcefully presented in luxurious color by consummate skill with brush, palette knife, sponge and other implements. Every painting is a tour de force, joyous and enjoyable.

Nevertheless, there are no tricks or gimmicks. This is a serious work, presented with a bravura yet mature technique. Subjects are animals, birds (many peacocks), ladies and gentlemen in eighteenth century attire, lush vegetation and gazebos, summer houses, rivers, streams, fish, boats, mansions, corridors and arcades arranged according to the precepts of abstract-expressionist space.

The work is unusual for our times, a world of the artist's own making, an artist who has nonetheless lived in New York City his whole life.


Statement, Raphael Collazo, New York 1983, for the exhibition Raphael Collazo Paintings, Steve Bush Exhibit Room, New York, September 16-October 15, 1983, curated by Acker-Gherardino.