By Arielle Hoffman
7 June 2017
New exhibition deKonstruKt, Raftopoulos’s desire is to “debase this belief system” that surrounds us – our historical and contemporary narratives. Although not necessarily visible from his aesthetic, Raftopoulos in fact engages with the masters, Titian, Michelangelo and Caravaggio, as the first part of this process.
From here he visually rejects these icons, consciously dealing with his raw canvas and bare materials with the aim to excavate and rebuild. Yet his approach is not simply iconoclastic and a return to basics, but rather a challenge to what we know.
Gestural brushwork and naturalistic layers establish the human at the centre of his work, enabling him to use it as a platform to question both himself and the wider human experience.
The rawness of his aesthetic functions as a form of confrontation in which historical myths are challenged by the recognisable yet intangible, which combine in his works.
Raftopoulos’s oeuvre also includes sculptures, which further embody his pursuit for truth in our contemporary world. Just as he does with paint, he seeks to use materials in their raw form in order to attack the subjective beliefs that constitute our moment in time.
He uses discarded objects collected from op shops or the side of the street, breaking them down and reshaping them. The result is obscure figures, both uncanny and nostalgic, reminding the viewer that what they see all around them is in fact what humans have created, and therefore can recreate. Raftopoulos’ “insatiable appetite to exhaust and exude truth from both materials and subject matter” is ubiquitously expressed in the gestural physicality and challenging rawness of both his paintings and sculptures throughout this latest exhibition.