Rafaela de Ascanio b. 1986

Rafaela de Ascanio (b.1986) lives and works in London. She completed her Fine Art Foundation at Central St Martins in 2006, then went on to study at The Courtauld Institute of Art, completing her MA in 2010. In 2019 Rafaela attended the Turps Banana Painting Programme. 


Rafaela’s paintings and sculptures work in tandem, compiling layers of iconography and exchanging symbols to explore the female experience through differing processes. Her paintings have a tropical colour palette, attributed to her early years spent in the volcanic Canary Islands. She sculpts clay into anatomical forms that are glazed with flowing circular narratives and fired to create enduring stone bodies. Rafaela portrays the female in defiant guises, empowering both her and the viewer. Images emerge from autobiographical events, fantastical symbols from sci-fi film and literature, esoteric pagan practices, and ‘fire and brimstone’ altarpieces. Disrupting the patriarchal narratives propagated throughout art history, she revisualises the female as the protagonist and leader, with sexual ownership, and psychological resilience.


Her solo exhibition ‘Universal Yearnings’ opened at Liliya Art Gallery in London, May 2021. Two-person exhibitions include ‘Back to Back’, Bowes Parris Gallery, London (2021), ‘The Deccan Traps’, Aindrea Contemporary, London (2019), and ‘The Body is a Blessed Juicy Fruit’, Lamb, London (2018). Recent group shows include ‘Cracked’, Tristan Hoare, London (2021), ‘Focus on the Female’, Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London (2021), ‘Monster/Beauty: An Exploration of the Female/Femme Gaze’, Lychee One, London (2020), and ‘Paintings On, And With Paper’, Cob Gallery, London (2020). In 2021 Rafaela received the Young Masters Emerging Artist Award.