June Kelly Gallery


Julio Valdez
Water Abstractions

Las Terrenas Abstraction VIII, 2019
Oil on linen, 54 x 74 inches

Water Abstractions, 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.


Click on thumbnail for larger image.

Skaneateles Grey Abstraction - 2015-16

Cayo Arenas VI - 2016

Celestun II - 2016

Watch the video, A Conversation with Julio Valdez.

To Julio Valdez Bio


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