new work by Julio Valdez, feature trancelike surreal paintings
in which abstraction with figuration intrigues, stirring
unconscious awareness and dreaminess. The exhibition will
open at the June Kelly Gallery, 166 Mercer Street, on November
15, and the works will remain on view through December 31.
Valdez, a native of the
Dominican Republic who relocated to New York, wrote, “My recent
work continues my visual explorations of light and movement of
water, deepening my understanding of them as metaphors for
consciousness and the creative process. Water’s fluidity
allows me to incorporate abstractions of human and natural
forms, providing me the opportunity to reflect on issues of
displacement and cultural identity.”
Valdez is constantly
creating a hybrid visual language through the fusion of
abstraction and figuration – capturing strange beauty in the
unexpected, the enigmatic, and the unconventional. As in
his earlier work, images are juxtaposed in surprising ways –
humans stoically represented along with biomorphic ambiguous
shapes under water -- his current exhibited painting, Las
Terrenas Abstraction VIII, 2019 shows human forms appearing
to transform within undulating waves.
Valdez’s imagination and
skill with brush, line, and closeness of tone between hues of
greens, blues, and whites resonate with a sense of movement, a
rhythmic articulation with ripples forming a visual cadence.
The results are dream-like water abstractions suggestive of
French writer André Breton’s perception of psychic automatism -
the actual functioning of thought releasing the creative
potential of the viewer’s unconscious mind.
Valdez’s imagery creates
spatial uncertainty, with a sense of time not yet defined.
He says his paintings explore an oceanic landscape, examining
images of water, looking beyond its physical characteristics
while using it as a metaphor for consciousness.
Valdez envisions the sea
as a world where nature and consciousness meet, where water, as
well as intensity of the light, are both his focus and constant
symbols of a Dominican’s devotion to his island. Valdez
infuses his work with multi-layered imagery as a response to the
shifting cultural and social influences in his life. His
work references his childhood memories of the Caribbean, as well
as contemporary issues of displacement and cultural identity.
Valdez was born in Santo
Domingo and studied at Altos de Chavόn School of Design in La
Romana, which is associated with Parsons School of Design, New
York. He also studied at the National School of Fine Arts
in Santo Domingo and worked with printmakers Robert Blackburn
and Kathy Caraccio in New York. He lives and works in New
York City and Washington, DC.
Valdez’s paintings have
been shown in many one-person and group exhibitions in the
United States, the Caribbean, Canada, Asia, and Europe. He
is represented in numerous public, corporate, and private
collections, including El Museo del Barrio, New York; Los
Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Latin American Art, Long
Beach, CA.; Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers
University, New Jersey; the Library of Congress and The World
Bank, Washington, DC; Musée Grimaldi, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France;
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Museum of
Modern Art, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Omar Rayo Museum,
Roldanillo, Colombia; and the US Department of State Art in
Embassies Program permanent collection. In 2019, Valdez is part
of the official representation of the Dominican Republic at the
58th Venice Biennale. A museum exhibition is scheduled for 2021
at the Art Museum of the Americas, Organization of American
States (OAS), Washington, DC.