Raphaël Léonardini was born in Paris in 1970 to a highly artistic family. He began producing his own works at a very young age and was thrilled to see his figurative drawings of parrots on display at the Galerie Urabamba in Paris. He spent his school years at the Centre for Studies and Research in Pedagogy and Psychoanalysis, an experimental school in Bonneuil-sur-Marne, just outside Paris, and spent time gaining work experience as an ice-cream maker and gardener before moving on to drawing and archaeology. After leaving school, he studied sculpture and drawing before joining a centre for handicapped workers producing pottery and frescos. However, it was only once he moved on from these normative structures that his creativity truly took flight. Large surfaces entirely covered with black or coloured lines entice the viewer’s gaze to caress the work before identifying the figures depicted. This leads to an explosive fusion of themes close to his heart, such as comics, particularly from the USA, Greek and Egyptian mythology, and Gothic and medieval imagery. New York policemen rub shoulders with armies of mummies and warrior goddesses sometimes transform into saxophone-playing saloon bar girls in fishnet stockings. These imaginary worlds create unexpected conjunctions in sophisticated compositions featuring labyrinthine architecture, Doric columns, cascading roses, and medieval turrets, all scattered with inscriptions in Greek, Egyptian, Hebrew, or some mysterious language from a science fiction novel. Raphael’s dazzling blend of ancient and contemporary myths recounts the fairytale of a new age and a new world, which sometimes reveals the stamp of his favourite author, Edgar Allen Poe.
Raphael’s highly codified works – first shown at the Galerie Christian Berst in 2006 – have now been acquired by some of the most significant collections of Art Brut, including that of Arnulf Rainer. They have also been shown at a number of exhibitions, including Éloge du dessin at La Halle Saint Pierre in 2008, Florilèges de l'art brut at the Galerie Les Yeux Fertiles in 2009, Drawing Now Paris in 2009, and Insita 2010 in Bratislava.
heterotopias : architectural dwellings, curator : matali crasset, christian berst art brut gallery, from december 2nd, 2017 to january 20th, 2018.
exhibition catalogue, heterotopias : architectural dwellings, christian berst art brut ed., paris, 2017.
exhibition catalogue, colecção, treger-saint silvestre collection, christian berstart brut ed., paris, 2014.
exhibition catalogue, arte bruta, terra incognita, texts by christian berst, marina bairrao ruivo, antonio saint silvestre, lelivredart, paris, 2012.
exhibition catalogue, insita 2010, slovak national gallery, bratislava, 2010.
« l'art brut aujourd'hui », artension, special edition n°4, septembre 2010.
exhibition catalogue, éloge du dessin, halle saint-pierre, paris, 2009.