Raphael Collazo

Amy Lozano, UAMA intern, 1995

The Museum recently received two paintings by Puerto Rican artist Raphael Collazo from the late William A. Small, Jr. of Tucson. (See "Director's Letter", first page.) The works, Paseo [Paradiso], 1985 [1987], and Man in China, 1988, bring the total to four in the permanent collection. Another, a mixed media assemblage [Swaneria: Marina's Dream], is on long-term loan to the UAMA from a private collector. Man in China was displayed in the retrospective of Collazo's works held here in the fall of 1992. A second retrospective of Collazo's work opened in San Juan, Puerto Rico in December 1994 and continues through March 1995.

Collazo (1943-1990) lived in a world of new-found excitement and beauty which he tried to express to the viewer. When asked by a reporter how he felt when someone didn't understand his work, he said, "I'm really amazed at people who have no imagination. And I think, oh well, I tried to give them a boost, or a shove, but -- they're hopeless."[1] After saying this he laughed.

Collazo attended Pratt Children's Art School and the High School of Music and Art. He won the top high school scholarship prize in New York City. He also began studies at the School of Visual Arts but eventually moved on to the Art Students' League.

His style was unique, though he had many influences. His work often exhibits the rich colors of Italian baroque paintings, the rococo shell and floral patterns of eighteenth century France, and the painterly influences of abstract expressionists Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

Collazo's technique was both generous and gestural. He combined layers of thick paint with sand and marble dust for texture. He also collaged paper and cloth along with flat, circular shapes of gesso to many of his paintings. Goodbye Rococo, 1985, shows an energetic tropical world of water, vegetation and animal-like forms. Vibrant colors enhance the painting's movement and beauty, while the large size of the work immerses the viewer in this imagined world. The recently acquired Paseo [Paradiso] resembles French garden scenes of the late 1700s with its topiary, edged shrubs, roses and even a mandolin. Man in China and Devonian Times [You Pushed Me], 1989, were painted in a different manner. Man in China is a dark, brooding mountain scene and Devonian Times [You Pushed Me] seems almost a geological representation in a flat, light palette.

An artist and friend, Ernest Acker, said about Collazo, "Everything he saw and experienced was transformed into kaleidoscopic beauty....That is why he is still so fully here. It is almost impossible to believe him gone. He inspires and keeps us all moving and laughing."[2]


News report, Raphael Collazo, Collections column, The University of Arizona Museum of Art museum notes, Tucson, Arizona, Spring 1995. Captions of paintings shown are: "Raphael Collazo, Paseo [Paradiso], 1985 [1987]; 29 x 33 in.; gift of William A. Small, Jr." and "Raphael Collazo, Man in China, 1988; oil on paper; 30 x 22 in.; gift of William A. Small, Jr."


1 Ernest Acker-Gherardino and Raphael Collazo, unpublished manuscript, Interview with Raphael A. Collazo for Blue Food, New York, 1987, as transcribed by Acker-Gherardino from a recording.

2 Ernest Acker-Gherardino, Living a life with Ralph..., New York, 1990.