(b. 1964) Born in Israel, lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
Drawing inspiration from his years of travel through Southeast Asia, Rafael Anteby has created a singularly unique body of work, which includes traditional charcoal powder paintings, sand carvings, and elaborate mineral mandalas.
The artist is best known for his jewelry line, Bullets4Peace, which recycles used bullet casings, repurposing them into handcrafted pieces. Through this endeavor, Anteby successfully established a platform to raise awareness in the fight to curb gun violence, and in doing so, harnessed the unprecedented support of many international celebrities. He also founded an organization called Reloading Life, which works to support orphaned children affected by warfare in Southeast Asia. As part of the project, the artist spends several weeks a year collaborating with schools in that region to distribute educational materials and instruct children in martial arts and meditation techniques to help overcome trauma and build self-esteem.
Anteby’s foray into the arts began as an adolescent in Israel, when he first took up courses in fine art. He simultaneously immersed himself in Martial Arts training, vigorously practicing—up to eight hours daily—in Kung Fu, Karate, and Yoga. Upon graduating secondary school, he enlisted in the Israeli Defense Force as a high-ranking Lieutenant for four years. After completing his service, he moved to Hong Kong to further study the traditional practice of Kung Fu.
Over the next decade, Anteby spent time in Israel, South Africa, and the United States as an instructor at academies, while broadening his knowledge with additional studies in Kung Fu, Chinese Wrestling, and Tai Chi. In 1992, Anteby won the South African Championship in Kung Fu as well as the Shaolin World Tournament for Kung Fu (Full Contact) in China. At the time, he was considered the highest-ranking Caucasian to have participated in the Chinese Olympics. He then spent several months at the Shaolin Monastery in solidifying his Hard Style Kung Fu technique.
In 2000, he was suddenly diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, and was told he only had one year before he was to become legally blind. With that, he flew to China to study Medical Qigong at the Chinese Medical University of Beijing with a focus on the eyes, as well as a tenure concentrating on Healing and Martial Arts at the Wu Dang Monastery. That same year, he took home titles in both the Tai Chi World Championship in addition to the Chinese Wresting World Championship in his weight division. Upon his return to the States, the physicians were astounded to discover that his symptoms had completely disappeared.
In the US, coinciding with his teaching, the artist took up an interest in sword fighting techniques. He encountered a Chinese mantra, “To master the art of the sword, one should first master the art of the brush.” With that, he took up Chinese watercolor and calligraphy painting.
During his travels to Southeast Asia, thereafter, he took notice in the ubiquitous artistic practices that spanned the local cultures. Anteby had, in essence, elevated his own sense of art consciousness. He returned to the Wudang Mountains to train anew, this time focusing on the distinct artisan practices in the region. He learned mandala-making from monks in Tibet, Tibetan Buddhist painting (Tangka) in Nepal, charcoal powder painting in Chiang Mai, and studied watercolor painting with native artisans in Laos and Cambodia.
Ultimately, Anteby adopted and mastered the essential techniques of the infinitely slow and delicate performative practices of these authentic traditions. One monk, in particular, took a liking to the artist, and gave him insight into the spiritual knowledge rooted in the practices—allegories in symbols, meanings through specific colors, properties afforded to specific minerals, etc. It is his intention to imbue each piece with the vitality and energy that invigorated his experiences. Mastering art forms both physical and spiritual, Anteby now gives permanence to these otherwise ethereal, fleeting designs and customs.