Robert Rahal: The Shape of Life
After exploring many avenues throughout his lifetime, Robert Rahal took a step back to gain perspective on what it all meant. Leaving a more conventional professional life in the balance, Rahal decided to pursue his passion and tap into the artist within. It was merely 5 years ago that Rahal first touched brush to canvas, but it’s safe to say that the paintbrush has not stopped stroking ever since. Expressing his inner thoughts and feelings in circular form, Rahal’s art is born from an attempt to find freedom within the boundaries of his own inner world.
Producing art that expresses the primal life qualities is what gives essence to Robert Rahal’s work. Through abstract expressionism, he portrays his non-conformity as well as his affinity toward freedom with each perfectly manipulated brushstroke. “When I paint it makes me feel good. Manipulating the paintbrush and feeling it glide across the canvas is where I take solace,” Rahal describes. The refined lines alongside absolute symmetry exposes Rahal’s anxiety and feelings about maintaining control. In juxtaposition, the colours he plays with offer a sense of playfulness and carefree attitude. “My life is the canvas, the outer edges. It’s controlled and provides boundaries,” Rahal explains. “The circle is me, it shows how unfree I feel, but the colour is where I can push myself out of that comfort zone.”
Representation and Life
Appreciating art for art’s sake is to understand the process of creation in the first place. The dynamism and movement behind painting in circular motion is the emotion that can be felt when standing before one of Rahal’s paintings. The intention behind each stroke emanates from the 3-dimensional pieces, and for anyone who has seen one of his paintings in person, it’s hard to deny the visceral feeling that is brought on as a viewer. “Abstract expressionism is gestural and filled with spontaneous emotion. My paintings are actions and they are created with movement,” Rahal explains. “Hopefully they make people feel something, because I feel something when I make them.” Whether it is an organic colour combination or a beyond perfect circular shape symmetrically centered and evenly designed, Rahal’s pieces represent him and his view of the world as he perceives it. In turn, it begs the viewer to question his or her own place in the world.
Finding Success in Today’s Art World
Reconciling the life of an artist with the reality of making a living, every artist in this day and age must be his or her own entrepreneur. Only a few have been as fortunate as Rahal as to find success so early on as an artist. “I’ve never gone out and hustled my art,” Rahal explains. “Of course, I put myself out there and I’ve had vernissages, but I’ve been in a privileged position in terms of success as an emerging artist.” Rahal has sold pieces at Context Art during Art Basel week in Miami and his art is currently brokered in Boston. Rahal also has local representation and was recently commissioned to create an original piece of art for Raise Your Glass: A Backyard Concert in October 2019 in the Pacific Palisades, benefiting UCLA Health & Teen Cancer America. His piece was an official auction item and was signed by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend, of the legendary rock band The Who.
Inspiration Can be Found Everywhere
“The way I approach my art is quite organic. I never have a plan, I just choose a colour and go from there; it’s a lucid experience.” Rahal can stand in a museum for hours in front of a painting, not to contemplate the work itself, but to examine the process by which it was created. “I’m fascinated by the movement in Jackson Pollock’s work. His freedom of expression can be found in paint splatterings and it makes me tingle.” Aspiring to let himself go even more so as to appreciate the possibility of imperfection, Rahal approaches his work with steadfast hands. Committed to creating art as an exploration of both life and what it all means—a very existential plight—, he’s learned that the process is a never-ending experience that is constantly evolving. “I used to have a preconceived notion of what art is supposed to be, but I have discovered that it’s a feeling and I’ve learned to trust my process, because we are all in process after all.”
Text: Alecs Kakon
Photos: © Andrew Nowacki