I will let myself be taken, and will not put up a defense, like the sky that casts shadows on the hands of children. I will let myself be taken by the dreams of Raphaël Neal, in the position of his stars, and the geometry of his silence, in the first waters of his childhood. I will make my bed in the eve of his nights, there where he is the only one to know where the movements of his body might weave his net, the gulf between stress and calm, vice and virtue, saintliness and ceremony, between tenderness of his philtres and the venom of his violent deafness, between his future and the distant continents of his past, where he is coming from, where he feels the ghosts invading him, so he fills his thoughts with a picture. It it really him, or the face of a nightmare that made his bed through-out his childhood, is it really him or the tide of waves of his idols, of his masters, the loves of his life that crash against the enormous lighthouses that guide and illuminate his night?
All this joins together after breaking apart, like hands, after a crisis or passion come together in prayer. He joins his shadows, his faces, the theory of everything those that he has done. He makes this a resting place for his other lives, his other destinies and his look whispers to you that it is not here that he fights, but somewhere else, that he is on another voyage, where the shoreline is even longer, that world flows in his veins further and more strongly than you can imagine.
He is not one or even two, but a whole gallery of portraits, he lends his body, his face, his soul to multiple lives, that he has been to touch or only approach.
The self-portrait by Raphael Neal is not an egotistical act, or a unique movement towards himself, but an introspection to be shared with others, it is by going deep inside one-self that he meets and explains, the explanation for other to better find himself, he imposes the dialogue, accepts the intrusion in the intimacy of his most secret movements. He creates other bodies, other faces, sometimes other genders, abandoned or influenced. The trying of another skin, the resurrection of a far-off emotion, the exploration and the exhibition of that that plays inside him. That that make his past, his story, these are the aspect that are the most perceptible in his art, but behind this visible composition, hides the desire to unite the dissipated fragments of himself qnd form a being that is unique and coherent.
In his work, an artist delivers himself, from the first to the last word, the shot of a bird in the most violent aspect of the sky: all of this is a self-portrait, there is not just this in art, just him and the exile of the long night. From the first photograph, Raphael Neal must of sensed that he had been orphaned. Because he poses the quality of an artist who makes their art with their blood, with the driest dessert full of solitude, who belongs to nothing and no-one. However who gives and finds routes to join his audience, who confronts life and who in all his exhibitions knows how to conserve the veils intact of modesty.
Raphaël Neal is a ‘dream-catcher’. He knows how the Indian witch doctors, stopped the world, he seizes, mixes the ingredients, and in one look, between life and death. He knows the deep lines that form every second and his shots escape other faces, other tears, other whispers. He could be in the instant of a dream, that one has done in a sweet, in stillness or out of fear. All of these things have lived before he captures them : volatile fuel, a butterfly fighting, a sinking, the love of closed eyes, a crucifixion, a deathly pale body and the whisper of nudity. He knows the magic these rites of the lighting that is need to make these things come to life.
Like you, I leave myself to be caught up and swallowed up in his work. He traps me and confidently lays me down on the uncertain trembling of his flesh.