Rafael Gomez Luna

Rafael Gomez Luna, Should I, 2016
Should I oil on canvas, 2016

Rafael Gomez Luna, Country Road, 2015
Country Road acrylic on board, 10 x 14 in. 2015

The small, pastoral paintings of Rafael Gomez Luna belie the fact that he is a political creature and an extrovert for whom art and urban life are thoroughly entwined. This makes him an excellent addition to a gallery that closely tracks the recent history of art in Brooklyn. In the course of several months of seeing Gomez Luna's work in local shows, and after a few studio visits, it was evident that this painter responds to a question that has been vexing me since the inception of our gallery. Namely, the question of what a painting should be, and why certain criteria for so-called "urban painting" are so widespread and taken for granted.

Vanishing Space, Boundless Space – a new painting by Rafael Gomez Luna

Time-honored tropes like "scale" and "concept" and how a painting "relates to the space around it," and so on, are considerations deeply influenced by sculpture and conceptual art. These considerations are also at the front of Gomez Luna's thinking, but he has an original and counterintuitive approach to them. 
In these very small paintings, which take a long time to paint, there is a compact and worked-over quality. The landscapes are tightly wound up in the paint, and then they seem to spring into the room. It is a formulation that concerns the relationship of a painting to the room. But rather than the architectonic kind of formula, here a whimsical miniature opens the room up to a landscape. And at the same time, the painting conveys something chunky and inscrutable about an the art object.

These are urban pastorals for our time. At a few inches in size, they comment upon the cost of wall space in New York these days. They acknowledge the heroic narrative of the urban painter working on a monumental scale. But in a city of shrinking space, of shrinking studios, they alight upon the wings of outdoor painting.

— ep, 2/19/16

Rafael Gomez Luna, Pasture, 2015-16
Pasture oil pastel on board, 10 x 8 in. 2015-16

Rafael Gomez Luna, Jazz, 2012-16
Jazz acrylic on board, 8 x 10 in. 2012-16

Rafael Gomez Luna, Tropical Beach, 2014-16
Tropical Beach acrylic on canvas, 5 x 7 in. 2014-16

Rafael Gomez Luna, Enchanted Forest, 2014-16
Enchanted Forest oil pastel on canvas, 8 x 10 in. 2014-16

Rafael Gomez Luna, Mount Hood WA, 2015-16
Mount Hood WA oil on board, 8 x 10 in. 2015-16

Rafael Gomez Luna was born in 1958 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He moved to Washington Heights in Manhattan when he was 18, and has lived in New York City ever since. As a child Rafael witnessed the Dominican civil war and the end of the Trujillo regime. Raised by foster parents, he attended a military academy and was set for a career in the army. His life changed when he moved to New York to rejoin his biological parents. Rafael has worked as a model, an actor, and as a community and housing activist in Washington Heights, the Lower East Side, and in Brooklyn. He is married with a young daughter, and lives and works in Park Slope.