Artist Spotlight: Rafael Coronel

  • Artist Spotlight
  • Modern + Contemporary

Rafael Coronel is considered to be one of the greatest artists of the new expressionism movement in Mexican art.

Coronel was born on July 24, 1931, into a family of artists in Zacatecas, Mexico. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado “La Esmeralda” (National School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking) in Mexico City and Europe.

Rafael Coronel, <em>Dos Viejos</em>.
Rafael Coronel (Mexican, 1932–2019), Dos Viejos, 1960, oil on paper, 19″ x 24.5″.
Sold: $4,410

Coronel’s art often depicted human figures, landscapes, and still life compositions. He employed a distinctive style characterized by vibrant colors, meticulous details, and a touch of surrealism. His paintings showcased a deep understanding of Mexican culture and history — reflecting indigenous influences and the country’s social issues.

Rafael Coronel, <em>Retrato Sorprendido</em>.
Rafael Coronel (Mexican, 1932–2019), Retrato Sorprendido, oil on canvas, 39.5″ x 14″.
Sold $6,300
Rafael Coronel, <em>Los Primos</em>.
Rafael Coronel (Mexican, 1932–2019), Los Primos, 1959, oil on paper, 25.5″ x 19.5″.
Sold: $13,860

Gudelia emphasizes Coronel’s interest in portraiture, which was inspired by everyday people encountered on the streets of Mexico City. He depicted the human existential angst in the figure’s spectral, menacing face, with a downturned mouth and harrowing facial features set against a chiaroscuro background.

Rafael Coronel, <em>Gudelia</em>.
Rafael Coronel (Mexican, 1932–2019), Gudelia, 1961, oil on board, 40.5″ x 30.5″.
Sold: $8,820

Coronel’s contributions to the art world and his dedication to preserving Mexican cultural heritage continue to inspire artists and art enthusiasts to this day.

Rafael Coronel, <em>El Veterano</em>.
Rafael Coronel (Mexican, 1932–2019), El Veterano, 1959, oil on paper, 18.5″ x 24.5″.
Sold: $5,355

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