Raphaelle Goethals


Focusing on painting as a space of exploration, Raphaëlle Goethals has worked in encaustic as her signature medium for nearly twenty years. She established her own vocabulary in the form of distinctive groups of paintings, which evolve concurrently.
Place and process are integral to the works of the artist, who is known for her reductive and luminous paintings that are comprised of multiple thin layers of encaustic paint brushed, scraped and burnished to a smooth and subtle finish.

Embarking on a conceptually rigorous journey, yet trusting an intuitive sense of rightness and acknowledging the inescapable history of the medium, Goethals is interested in a blurring of boundaries.
While the “Lumens” series started in the late nineties alluded to the intimate relationship between body and text, in the past decade Goethals began to focus on an increasingly distilled process, emptying her surfaces from anything narrative, descriptive, or anecdotal.
Distilled, restrained and complex, her practice exists at the intersection of the expressive and the minimal.

The work might be seen as referring to minimalism, and the fundamentality of light and space, yet reformulate the “question of painting” in the classical sense. The surface itself, the plane, the tones, the light, as well as the grid system present in earlier works state their importance.
While the paintings are resolutely abstract and nonobjective, the light and glowing colors are part of the desert landscape of the Southwest where the artist lives.

Dust Stories, the current body of work of the past few years, is grounded in the continuation of Goethals’ ongoing search for the classical and timeless. For the patient eye, it is a weaving of energy; connecting a path from the early devotional flemish paintings of her childhood to the point zero of minimal painting and rebuilding from there. Goethals interest is in experience that is wordless and silent. In opposition to the “tabula rasa’ necessary to the early modernist, this is about integration and distillation, and reinvesting the constituents of Painting, ultimately respecting the Mystery as a space of contemplation.

These paintings, with their distilled, vulnerable, and subtle surfaces, remind us to slow down and pay attention. Luring the viewer into a space of contemplation, the work attempts to bridge the personal and universal, the expressive and the minimal.
The internalized landscape is reduced to its minimal resonance: the sound of the wind, the dust on a windshield, and the further abstracted notion of nature. We are exposed to the vulnerability of present time. Ultimately, the paintings are massively silent .