Rafael Barrios

Born in 1947 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Venezuelan parents.

Rafael Barrios’ work has been characterized from the beginning by the alteration of the observers’ perceptive mental state, manipulating form with the intention of dislocating our convictions about what we believe to see. Barrios creates a territory where the laws of gravity do not exist, one in which objects rise freely over themselves and where volume moves into space. With this, he destroys our false beliefs about what is possible and we question our ties to that which is terrestrial. 

Barrios has been recognized as one of the most revolutionary contemporary Latin American artists and creator of Virtualism, a movement that he himself describes as: “the creation of visually participative pieces and in the creation of dislocating events in our perception. Volume is virtually modified in form, depending on distance, the shifting position of the observer and the changes in light throughout the day”.

Rafael Barrios is a sculptor considered one of the mayor exponents of Latin American geometric art. His work is based on the alteration of our perceptive mental state, manipulating shapes with the purpose of dislocating our convictions of what we believe we are seeing, considering himself a generator of existential circumstances. Sculpture is the discipline he chooses to subject the observer into discovering a broader relation of his Universe, thus establishing new rules in the game of perception. 

Of its many forms, Barrios’ oeuvre includes the creation of large-scale pieces for public spaces, where virtuality is magnified to monumental dimensions and urban contexts, transforming the space into a new visual experience. 

His childhood and elementary education took place in Venezuela where he studied, from an early age, drawing and art at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas. At only 16 years of age, Rafael obtains a national award granted to young artists- Premio Nacional de Pintura Juvenil. 

His passion for art and undeniable talent allow him to complete his education at Ashbury College in Ottawa, Canada, with a mention in art, he is then granted a scholarship from J. Walter Thompson International to study Pure Art, Communication and Design at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, Canada, from which he graduated with honors. He later completed a postgraduate degree in Fine Arts and Monumental Techniques with a scholarship at New York University.

During his almost 40 years of artistic career, Barrios has participated in more than 100 exhibits, both solo and collective, in some of the most important art centers in the United States, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. His impressive works are found in permanent collections at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Carmmen Lammana Foundation in Toronto, Canada, as well as the Sofía Imber Contemporary Art Museum in Caracas, Venezuela. In addition, his sculptures are amongst important private collections such as the King of Spain, Don Juan Carlos de Borbón, and Princess Gloria Von Thurn Und Taxis of Germany. He has been commissioned numerous pieces to be integrated in important urban spaces such as: Art et Industrie and the Coca-Cola International headquarters both in New York; Philippe Stark’s Murano Grande building and Sunny Isles park in Miami; the Fontanilla park in Puerto de Palos, Spain; the headquarters of the Caracas Metro, the Sofía Imber Contemporary Art Museum, CorpBanca headquarters, Procter & Gamble International headquarters, Polar Foundation, Seguros de Venezuela building and the Interlúmina headquarters in Puerto Ordaz, all in Venezuela, amongst others.