Raffael had his first solo show in 1958 and since that time has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. Raffael's works of the mid 1960s—surreal combinations of imagery cut from magazines—were thematically concerned with "pain, suffering, and cut-off things" and bear little resemblance to either the work of his Yale professors Josef Albers and James Brooks or to Raffael's more recent compositions. In the 1960s Raffael began painting streams and isolated flora and fauna in natural settings, working from photographs to capture momentary and spontaneous occurrences in nature. In these paintings Raffael synthesizes realism and abstraction; he crops external references to natural scale and distance, so that a single image often fills the picture plane. In his recent work, Raffael shows the entire sweep of a garden rather than close-up individual images and consciously organizes his subjects to produce dramatic effects of contrast and brilliance.
Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)