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Latin American Ilustracion: Peter Ra

By David Schonauer   Wednesday June 29, 2016


Peter Ra
  got his start while working as shipbuilder.

Ra, who is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, was a welder in the shipyards of his native Glasgow, Scotland, and he marveled at the shapes of the colossal steel fabrications he worked on. That fascination led him to art school. He later began working in a variety of media. “While living in Paris and London, I did not work in steel, but turned to polymers to replicate the shapes that I remembered as a welder,” he notes.

Ra describes his work now as “a fusion of myths, legends, icons, archetypes, surrealism, and Jungian dream symbology.” In particular, his art is focuses on textiles. “I presently ink original abstract dream symbols onto the finest linen shirts, as unique wearable sculpture,” he says.

In 2013, Ra created a design for a Melbourne company specializing in limited-edition T-shirts. The illustration, in blue, red and white, featured multiple depictions of Cuba’s Fidel Castro.


“The image was digitally built in Photoshop and then finished in Adobe Illustrator,” Ra says. “The main challenge was to show clearly how Castro, and Cuba, were both the same, and how they survived isolation from the American embargo for 53 years. I did this by using key symbols within the Cuban colors in a dreamlike way. Also, Castro is shown to change slightly, with the years, but as always his rule stays the same in every image.”

The work was selected as a winner int he Latin American Ilustracion 3  competition.

Ra is currently working on a number of projects. “I work in many formats and constantly interchange ideas between mediums,” he says. “My current practice is to use Jungian dream theory to extract symbolism from my own dream diaries. These I explore with a languageof pure line expressed in abstraction. I express this language with painting, printmaking, and digital formats, across fine art, illustration, and design. Also, by working with metal, ceramics, textiles, and plastics, I find I can theoretically have innumerable combinations with fusion of the above.”

His workspace in Melbourne reflects his many interests. “I have a huge graphic library,” he notes. “The room is literally wall-to-wall art books, comics, and design mags I have collected over 30 years. I have a large open room where I also create small to medium works as paintings and sculpture. My fine-art studio is a converted garage, where I produce all my printmaking and larger works using many different mediums and chemicals.”

See more of Ra's work at his website.

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Dispatches from Latin America