Location: New Zealand
Rafael De Armas was born in Uruguay, South America. He completed tertiary studies at the Uruguayan School of Fine Arts using Bauhaus methods. As the result of Rafael's high achievement he was accepted by well-known landscape artist Eduardo Amezaga and Italian Master Lino Dinetto as an apprentice. After many years of vocational training, Rafael joined a number of advertising agencies and worked as a freelance illustrator.
In the late 1960s he worked independently as a graphic designer and photographer while simultaneously painting and sculpting as a means of feedback and grounding for the applied arts which come together in design.
Uruguay's institutional breakdown of 1973 sank the country into the grimmest dictatorship in the country's history and made all independent projects unfeasible. Rafael subsequently moved to Argentina with his wife and children.
Between the years 1974 to 1980, Rafael worked for the Science and Culture Educational Foundation as the Head of Art. Over this time he also looked after the editorial department, overseeing all publications of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research.
From 1981 until 1995 Rafael ran his own Graphic design business. Because of his wide abilities Rafael had a multitude of clients that provided a very broad spectrum of work. With the advancements of digital techniques Rafael was quick to realize the advantages and in 1985 he became one of the pioneers of applying digital technology into graphic design.
The Argentinean High Court recognized Rafael's knowledge of art and from time to time he was called upon to act as an expert witness for art forgery cases. In 1982, Rafael helped set up the Association of Argentinean Graphic Designers, this role defined a graphic designer's job profile and the Association still exists today.
In 1995, Rafael moved back to Uruguay with his family, setting up a new studio in Montevideo. He continued painting and designing in Uruguay until he migrated to New Zealand in 2003 to be near his daughters.
These days Rafael will be found working hard inside his home studio in New Plymouth. Chances are he will be busy painting with oil on canvas with his iPod providing him with hours of classical music and jazz.
Rafael's explanation about his political or environmental artwork:
"I don't stop with the pleasure of aesthetics I like to make a statement on the concept of defending ecology. I'm not conveying propaganda I just want a clear example about what we all have to face up to."
Rafael explained why he started painting New Zealand birds:
"Back when I first arrived in New Zealand in 2003 I soon became aware of the amazing birds we all share this land with. I have always enjoyed walking and my interest in this genre developed as a consequence really. Observing the birds and understanding their typical postures, characters and learning about their preferred foliage all helped me settle into my new homeland. The more I saw the more I wanted to see, walking in the Hunua Ranges or visiting Tiritiri Matangi island sanctuary and so many other places is important for me. My bird paintings are really a plea in favour of nature."
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