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ALESSANDRO RAHO | ‘Ewan’ and ‘San Francisco’
June 21st 2022
Carl, Catherine, Ewan, Simon and others, Alessandro Raho introduces friends and family through engaging and stimulating portraits. Gazing directly at the viewer his subjects call for attention. Kevina is only wrapped in a pink towel and caught slightly off guard, just having stepped out of the bath; and Ben - hands in pockets - poses in his new Moschino t-shirt. These are portraits of its time affirming the artist’s position as principle figure amongst a generation of figurative painters. Released as print editions, Ewan and Simon are two friends often revisited in his work, while the landscape work, San Francisco, represents an analogue form of portraiture. Each one a candid portrait of the world encircling Raho.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
Looking each of her passing years, the dark-blue velvety tracksuit on Raho’s grandmother stands out. Her glasses are thick as bottle-bottoms, holding a walking stick in one hand. The grand dame, painted on an articulated white backdrop with gentle, smooth brush strokes, exude the presence of a woman looking back at the experiences of life while maintaining the naive heart of twenties-something making a fashion statement. His grandmother, Bianca Maria, is portrayed as every bit of both, graciously distancing herself from the viewer by holding back her thoughts.

A graduate of Fine Art from the prestigious Goldsmith in ‘94, Raho stepped onto the London art scene at a time when new British art had the media spotlight; in particular everything from the graduates at Goldsmith. Five years earlier, the third-year students of ’89 had taken on the art world establishment by orchestrating Freeze, their own graduate show, and next released a wave of artworks, described by many art critics as “dumb-pop”. Damien Hirst, Abigale Lane, Sarah Lucas and a dozen more artists - supported by mega-collector Charles Saatchi in his self-interest - would boldly push aside the old guard, and by the mid-nineties a loosely defined group of Young British Artists, or YBA’s, epitomised the zeitgeist. Raho would quickly be regarded as one of them.
ALESSANDRO RAHO
Simon, 2007

40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
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ALESSANDRO RAHO
Simon, 2007

40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
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Alessandro Raho (British, b. 1971)

Simon , 2007

40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
Lithograph

Edition of 12
Available from a private collection
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Raho’s portraits of friends and family found their way into his sketchbooks a decade before his enrolment at Goldsmiths, and from the earliest works there are a simplicity to the drawings and paintings, emphasised through the limited use of colour and the indistinctive background. His oils have a flatness to them that call to mind the palette of British artist David Hockney, and a compositional resemblance of works by Alex Katz; an American figurative painter, renowned for his confident flower close-ups and cropped tree-trunks, and simplistic portrayal of East Coast characters and Hamptons lifestyle. Both artists had a noticeable influence on Raho’s artistic practice. Although captivated by photorealism, the artist equally holds an awareness of the techniques of traditional portraiture that would not hide brush strokes or spots of paint-texture coming out of the canvas. This is seen by the range of techniques whereby a sharp, photo-realistic approach is utilised to highlight objects man-made, with the faces and skin of his subjects, soft. Two dissimilar painting practices, bringing the subject right into the heart of the 21st century albeit with a foot in the door of the past.

Via whoever is sitting for him, Raho attempts to bridge the traditions of modern painting with fashion and design, often depicting his figures in trademark pants and t-shirts; as his grandmother, Bianca Maria, posing in the tracksuit. His intricate technical processes to make his paintings seemingly photographic not only make those sentiments all the more palpable for the viewer in their realism, but also helps to establish an informal relationship between the subject and viewer, ultimately dealing with a narrative of nostalgia and human emotion. The results are portraits with a relaxed, fresh and contemporary approach, alongside sharp, photo-realistic elements; signs of modern times, such as boldly patterned fabrics or clothing jazzed up by a fashion label, Snoopy the comic strip dog or Mickey Mouse.
ALESSANDRO RAHO
Ewan, 2001

Edition of 200
84(w) x 59(h) cm
33.07(w) x 23.23(h) inches
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ALESSANDRO RAHO
Ewan, 2001

Edition of 200
84(w) x 59(h) cm
33.07(w) x 23.23(h) inches
ENQUIRY
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Alessandro Raho (British, b. 1971)

Ewan , 2001

84(w) x 59(h) cm
33.07(w) x 23.23(h) inches
Lithograph with deckled edge.

Signed and numbered on front.
Edition of 200
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
$ 530.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Ewan is a fashion-conscious subject through which Raho exemplifies his formal characteristics of painting. Everything about Ewan is contemporary. The Fred Perry shirt and the stubble on the upper lip, the slumped informal posture and attitude of ‘cool’ that emanates from the eyes. It could be anyone, a face of a passer-by in the street; self-confident at first glance but after staring a while subtle details emerge. Is that a lump in his throat? And is he fighting to control his feelings? The portrait of Ewan Gibbs - a close friend and fellow artist - has a glow of style and mystery. A sense of a generation and urbanity, but also a quality of quiet inwardness. Ewan seems to feel more than he says.

Another of Raho’s contemporaries is Simon. Unlike Ewan’s façade of ‘cool’ and ‘youth’, ready to take on the world, Simon almost seem to have come to terms with the certainty of adult life. The transitory haircut and beard-in-progress, complimented by the everyday pullover, suggests his new status as a mature and more responsible person. One that fits in with the adjustment from a life lived at trendy inner-city cafés to one in the periphery. Has Simon given in - or given up? In one of the two portraits there is a projection of indifference, and the tense eyebrows of the second portrait sends a message of annoyance aimed at the viewer. Alongside the immediacy and emotional intrigue read into every face or image, Raho succeed in a never exhausting perception of his work where there’s a little bit of everyone in it, when only looking closer.
ALESSANDRO RAHO
San Francisco, 2001

Edition of 100
89(w) x 120(h) cm
35.04(w) x 47.24(h) inches
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ALESSANDRO RAHO
San Francisco, 2001

Edition of 100
89(w) x 120(h) cm
35.04(w) x 47.24(h) inches
ENQUIRY
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Alessandro Raho (British, b. 1971)

San Francisco , 2001

89(w) x 120(h) cm
35.04(w) x 47.24(h) inches
Iris print

Signed and numbered on front.

Image size: 73(w) x 110(h) cm.
Edition of 100
PRICE (INCL. VAT)
$ 600.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Not all works by the artist are traditional portraits, and San Francisco blend in as a great example of such work. This photo-realistic depiction of a the single pine tree in the foreground could easily be an early morning view observed through the glazing of a forest cabin window. There are no emotions to be read from the pine tree, however on the back of Raho’s practice it is tempting to view it as portrait - almost personified - as it stands tall, proudly on the hillside, towering the misty hills in the distance.

Raho’s portraits, whether it is of friends, family or a pine tree, all have an effect and a modern feel that tell a broader story of our time.

Alessandro Raho had an instantaneous start to his career. Born in Nassau, Bahamas, he later moved to London and graduated from Goldsmith College of Art in ’94. The following year his work was selected for the Young British Artist showcase, ‘Brilliant!’, at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, exhibiting alongside some of the YBA trailblazers. While being determined never to do commissioned portraits he eventually gave in when approached by the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2005 for a portrait of the British actor, Judi Dench; a portraits which today is part of the museum primary collection. His works have been widely exhibited and is held in several museum collections such as Tate Modern, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Berardo Collection, Lisbon. Raho lives and works in the United Kingdom.

Making him one of Raho’s most painted subjects, the sixteenth portrait of Ewan was released as a lithographic print in 2001, alongside the serene landscape view, San Francisco. Both print editions represent the artist’s early practice and demonstrate Raho’s talent within modern painting. Printed as an iris print, San Francisco is an edition of 100, and the enigmatic Ewan is an edition of 200. Both editions are signed and numbered on front.

To view the print editions in more detail and to find more information about available works by Alessandro Raho, visit his artist page here.
 
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Red with Dragonflies
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