Photo by Mikayla Whitmore
"Rafael Espino: El Internacional" opens Saturday, August 8, with an opening reception from 6 pm to 10 pm at Rhizome Gallery. The story behind the self taught artist is intriguing. Rafael Espino came to Las Vegas in 1993 with no formal training in sculpture when he "began to take commissions for local churches, friends and Santeria altars." The release also declares the sculptures "cannot be attached to an artistic current or aesthetic vogue" yet still "tied to the life of a post-modern artist in Las Vegas."
The sculptural work of Rafael Espino must be placed in the context of his life as a refugee in Las Vegas. The honesty of his forms are developed through the utilization of Styrofoam, plaster and paint. Born in 1928, in Remedios, Cuba, Espino fought against the Cuban revolution, landing him in prison for 22 years. During this time, he learned the art of engraving and became an expert blacksmith. Local Cuban artists and members of the esteemed Academia de San Alejandro would visit Espino to witness his ala prima engraving skills. The engraved everyday objects he created were shipped around the world, earning him the name “El Internacional del Grabado. ”
"Rafael Espino: El Internacional" is curated by Justin Favela and Jesse Carson Smigel.
520 Fremont St
August 8 - September 11
Thursday through Saturday
1pm to 5pm
Above: Krystal Ramirez “I Want to See More Brown Bodies” from 2017 will be reassembled at UNLV’s Barrick Museum of Art in Spring 2018.