Raelis Vasquez (b. 1995, Mao Valverde, Dominican Republic) draws on historical, political and personal narratives. His paintings are figurative compositions that conjure the complexity of the Afro-Latinx experience. The figures in Vasquez's work inhabit a state of vulnerability that often encourages the viewer to question their positions on class, race, and geography. He immigrated to the United States in 2002 from the Dominican Republic. Vasquez feels an overpowering responsibility (or calling) to the arts and towards his Black, Latinx, and immigrant communities. Vasquez’s paintings are large-scale images that capture the historical and political narratives of his subjects while highlighting their emotional and personal narratives as well. The work ranges from traditional portraiture to contemporary genre scenes that represent people of color with multiple identities such as black, immigrant, mulatto, Afro-Latinx, and Latinx, all pressing against traditional concepts of what it means to be American.
Vasquez has exhibited in institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, Brooklyn, NY; El Museo del Barrio, NY; Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, Charlotte, NC; and Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, MI. Vasquez received a Odyssey Travel Grant from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Mare Residency at SunSpot Studios with MICA in Baltimore. He has a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in Painting and Drawing. He is a 2021 MFA graduate from Columbia University, emphasizing Painting and Drawing. He currently lives and works in New Jersey.