Psychological Perspectives, 64: 6–8, 2021, C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles
About the Artists: Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada
Through their artistic collaboration, Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada have created
something special resulting in four editioned portfolios entitled From Zero to Infinity.
These works are composed of limited editions of collaged imagery drawn from
a wide range of source material with digital and gestural alterations by each of the
artists. In some ways the prints echo mythology, displaying universal arrangements
between the gods that ordain destinies, the heavenly space that exists above and below,
and a human perception of the immensity of it all.
I am reminded of the efforts of ancient alchemists, cartographers, and astronomers
such as Jacob Boehme, Athanasius Kircher, Andreas Cellarius, and Robert Fludd,
whose diagrams depict experiments and observations. This art also connects with the
historical maps of sea explorers who departed from Europe in discovery of new lands,
as well as to 19th century Victorian journal drawings of found specimens recorded on
distant shores. Raphael and Spada’s work can simultaneously morph into the inner
realms of the collective unconscious and to the micro/macrocosms of the exterior world
that have been experienced, or are yet to be revealed.
By capturing travel through time and space, science and spirituality serve as partners
in these graphics. Synopses of each image are provided from the artists on their website:
https://fromzerotoinfinity.net. However, the optical encounter that we bring as spectators
to any work of art can enhance its meaning beyond an initial creative intent. Raphael and
Spada’s universes are active—spinning, dissolving, and coagulating against the deities and
figures in play. We become wary that only science or these archetypes will prevail…but
with the tension of both of them present, it becomes likely that something gets ignited,
formed, and keeps moving; Hebrew letters are aflame in red. The Kabbalistic Sephiroth, or
Tree of Life, and the calm of the goddess Quanwon on her lotus blossom participate as
energetic notations to this swirling world of Creation. Mathematical formulae scroll by suggesting a sense of logic through the Chaos. A skeleton kneels in prayer immersed in a
Pentecostal shower of matter. Do we truly understand what is going on in these mysteries?
What proves interesting to me is the personal exchange of how these images
come into being through the passing of ideas and visuals between the artists. It is as if
Logos and Eros are engaged in speaking to each other. Twenty years ago, Clayton
Spada, while serving as Director of Exhibitions at the Orange County Center for
Contemporary Art, encountered and included the work of Victor Raphael in a group
exhibition (OCCCA, 2000), which centered around science at the gallery. Their
energies sparked, discovering common ground. Spada was a published PhD research
biologist focusing on cellular biology of ocular inflammatory responses and retinal diseases
with additional interest in photography, writing, and art curating. Raphael, an
already established artist, created pieces through the mediums of filmmaking, printmaking,
digital technology, and photography (particularly by manipulating and enhancing
Polaroid photos). These found interests inspired conversations between the two
men that evolved into future projects. In the fall of 2008, the Doheny Memorial Library
at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, granted the artists a residency.
The following year, they brought their artistic talents onto the world stage by producing
the exhibition From Zero to Infinity: The Story of Everything.
Spada and Raphael work in a back-and-forth manner, many times from different
locations within Southern California as well as from China where Spada teaches during the
year. “Raphael generally begins the process, generating one of his celestial photographic
abstractions in digital form. He sends a file to Spada, who makes additions and alterations
that propel the piece ahead. Then it’s back to Raphael for more forward motion. Some
pieces get pushed along in this back-and-forth fashion for up to two years before they
reach their final destination as large-format archival inkjet prints on watercolor paper and
canvas” (McCulloh, 2019, para. 8). Other compositions arise more spontaneously and
come to fruition in a shorter amount of time. The portfolio prints are in an edition of 25
and the artists are currently working on their fifth portfolio of the series as well as collaborating
on several larger pieces on canvas that include the usage of gold and metal leaf. The
digital prints produced are in the public collections of the Laguna Art Museum, Laguna
Beach, CA; Huan Tie Times Museum, Beijing, China; Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
Los Angeles, CA; and the Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA. Both artists
pursue their craft individually as well as continuing to create work together.
Raphael and Spada’s art in this series comes up against many notions of what the
prime mover or creator is in spiritual traditions. Within various belief systems it is envisioned
as an undefinable, limitless entity that cannot be named or quantified as in the
Kabbalistic En-Sof, or in how the Chinese Tao may be regarded. This opens the door for
infinite possibilities generated from the original sources, which in turn are reflected
through these artists’ specific choices and endeavors. We can expect more images to follow
in due course.
McCulloh, D. (2019). Mind the gap: The collaborative work of Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada.
OCCCA. (2000). Nick of time [Group exhibition of mixed media]. July 1–30, exhibited at Orange
County Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana, CA, United States. http://www.occca.org/2020-06.
Nancy Mozur is an artist and writer who serves as Art Consultant for
Psychological Perspectives. She serves on the board of the Sam Francis
Foundation and is Assistant Editor of Cobalt Blue: Writings from the Papers of
Sam Francis. Her art and silver work have been exhibited in multiple venues
over the years, with the most recent being at the Weyrich Gallery in