Focusing on painting as a space of exploration, Raphaëlle Goethals has used wax and resin as her signature medium for the past ten years. Probing the physicality of the materials, Goethals works in a process of layering, pouring, scraping off, scratching into the surface, effacing, leaving traces of earlier information, all of this eliciting from the viewer a continuous shifting in the perception of forms, a build up and overlap of successive stages which demands that his or hers attention continually adjusts in order to consider the various perceptual possibilities within the subject. In her newer body of work, Goethals uses a distilled palette of whites, the beginning and end of all colors, to focus on the fundamentality of light and space.
The paintings reveal themselves slowly, asking the viewer to put aside any preconception. They examine the relationship between space and depth, presence and absence. Trusting an intuitive sense of rightness, and acknowledging the inescapable history of the medium, Goethals is interested in a blurring of boundaries. For example, the presence of the grid is an unapologetic nod to modernism and the vocabulary of painting, yet it coexists here with vast, glowing, sublimely luminous surfaces.
The work comes from a deep meditative space, from tapping into the intuitive mind and from an acute awareness of the urgency of creating art that speaks to the soul. Constantly bombarded with information, we are increasingly accustomed to simultaneity of experiences. These paintings, with their distilled, vulnerable, and subtle surfaces remind us to stop and pay attention. While there is nothing representational about it, their vast surfaces and glowing light suggest something of the open spaces of New Mexico, where the artist lives.
Born in Belgium and partially raised in the South of France, Goethals moved to the United States in 1980 to study at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. Drawn to the quality of light and the vastness of the landscape, she moved to New Mexico in 1993.