Kiki Valdes – Riding Dualism

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KIKI VALDES
RIDING DUALISM

Reception: Wed, November 19th 2014
The National Arts Club / Marquis Gallery
15 Gramercy Park South, New York, New York 10003
6 – 8 PM / RSVP is required 
ridingdualism@gmail.com

For his FIRST one-person exhibition in New York, Kiki Valdes presents new paintings that explore the phenomenon of dominance and the translation of experience into image and form. Continuing his inquiry into the evaluation of popular culture in the context of established American settings, Riding Dualism proposes a step further whereby traditions are re-explored and roles often reversed.

Valdes’ work often draws a corollary between the content and action with surroundings punctuated by arid landscapes and fragmented spaces. In his work “Bullish in the Desert”, the interaction between the dark colossal animal and the brightness of the hovering ghost-like figure is offset against the brightness of the warm tones of the landscape. This painting as well as others in the series, investigates the poetics and memories of the perpetuating Western American culture, re-enacting the artist’s own experience in the wilderness of Arizona.

Simultaneously entertaining and strikingly composed semi-abstract paintings, Kiki Valdes’ works are critical interrogations of the duality between the individual and the system, or in this case the ‘animal’. Tracing the conflicting broadcast of everyday uprising, the unleashed beast in “Angry Horse” exposes the overthrow of ongoing endorsed system, projecting the viewers in a mental state of a no-man’s land where the dignity of the animal and individual are one. Kiki Valdes approaches the lore of the American cowboy with an intimate immediacy, enabling his contemporary experience to exist within the continuum of civilizations.

Kiki Valdes was born in Miami, Florida in 1981, and lives and works between New York, New Jersey and Miami. A Cuban American painter, Valdes’ work explores the multidimensional complexities of people, religion, American-life, sex, and superstition. His canvases tend to overlap on top of various unresolved paintings and capture a sense of association, rhythm and conflict. Kiki often refers to his paintings as studies; instead of art history’s draw toward the female or still life, Valdes explores the use of 1990’s cartoons with expressionistic tendencies. His appropriation of Disney/Nickelodeon characters is a starting point for him to redefine his understanding of the subject. The work can best be described as a marriage between abstract expressionism and cartoons.

“Kiki Valdes: Riding Dualism” will be on view at The National Arts Club, New York from November 3-29th 2014. A reception will be held on November 19, 2014 from 6-8 PM.

Press Contact: RidingDualism@gmail.com

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The Ugly American: Saber @ The Outsiders Gallery, London

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The opening of Saber’s The Ugly American had a record attendance level this past Thursday at The Outsiders Gallery in LONDONTOWN. This exhibition includes a large number of ABSTRACT GRAFFITI styles on canvas and wood. It is the gallery’s FIRST show of the NEW YEAR and WELL WORTH THE VISIT!

photo-2Saber’s works were divided between two floors. A total of seven trademark Stars’n’Stripes flags (Old Math Series) on stained wood, depicting the American Flag and the Union Jack, were BEAUTIFULLY displayed on the entrance level of the gallery (images above). Eight more works were displayed in the basement (so don’t forget to go downstairs)! Each work varied in size but stayed within a reasonable measurement for a gallery setting, in contrast to his works that can be seen in an outdoor environment. Yet, the use of spray paint, oils and charcoal to create these different graffiti pieces not only expanded the dimensional constraints but the overall depth of each piece. To some extent these small-scale works are even more beautiful than some of his pieces seen outdoors, as the artist now had the opportunity to use a variety of mediums.

The wood series has a more muted tonality with a more dominant use of the natural wood coloration, while the abstract graffiti canvases have VIVID splashes of colour amongst toned down tones (see images below). It gives the otherwise gray walls of the gallery a more lively conversation.

photo copy 2For Saber, these paintings are meant to give those spectators who know nothing about graffiti an opportunity to look at his work and say, “This is a beautiful painting.”

The title of the show refers to the popularized phrase in William Lederer’s and Eugene Burdick’s 1958 novel, The Ugly American, which revolves around  international perceptions of Americans. Saber states in his Press Release for the show, “It’s a reference to the excesses, and foul nature, that some believe Americans possess. Obviously this has similarities to modern Britain too, but… I come from this culture that’s so self centered, and self-preserved, and I want to expose the cracks in it.” He has been known to go AGAINST many of the OFFICIAL POLICIES in the US, particularly those surrounding the health care system, misuse of public funding, and cuts in the art sector. These themes are some of the key factors dominating his works. It is no wonder this well-received exhibition was brought to London by POPULAR DEMAND.

Do yourself a favour and go check it out!

à plus! MCC (Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @CultureHeARTs)

Overreaction is a Bloody Understatement – An Example of How NOT to Take Criticism

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Everyone has the right to critique. Just “artists” or artists take it a little too personally, sometimes. Wanna be dramatic? Take it and break it. See for yourself.

But seriously, if you love what you do, why do you care what other people think? It’s just an opinion. This is not the difference between life and death.

And – Dear Girl in the Video with your “abstract” painting, you are already a fashion designer apparently, so you are established. I understand you spent a lot of time on that piece and went out of your comfort zone – but was this really necessary? Obviously you got upset and had the right to be since this painting was so personal to you that you started cursing and slammed the canvas against the wall after you kicked the frame. Maybe you should just stick to fashion?

Kids, at the end of the day… do what you do best. Follow your He(ART). Don’t listen to what other people have to say. Believe in yourself.

XX, DP

In Honour of Mark Rothko, A Reflection on His Contribution to Abstract Expressionism

Today marks the day Rothko committed suicide – 25 February 1970.

Being one of my favourite artists, I decided I would share a fragment of one of the paper’s I wrote about Rothko and Abstract Expressionism:

The new creative approaches of the Abstract Expressionists in the 1940s and 1950s (up until around the 1960s) were groundbreaking to the visual world. “Abstract expressionism is defined as a twentieth-century painting style in which artists applied paint freely to their MASSIVE canvases in an effort to show feelings and emotions” declares Robert Smith in his article entitled “Abstract Expressionism and the Imaginative Curriculum.” Most “abstract” art, as in the case of Abstract Expressionism, was developed as a response to the whole range of human experiences (remember these works evolved right after WWII). Jonathan Harris, in his article entitled: “Mark Rothko and the Development of American Modernism 1938-1948 claims:

“Represented as the ‘universal Free Style of the West’, the large agitated canvasses of Jackson Pollock or Rothko’s floating fields of colour become emblems of freedom of liberal American society: beacons of individualism, unfettered activity and creative risk, proposed as possible only in a true democracy (43).”

Rothko took advantage of these liberties, and became the a leader of Abstract Expressionism.

This new field is divided into two categories: Action Painting and Color Field painting. Generally, works of this period were painted on a GRAND scale. While these branches appear physically different in terms of style, they both are a combination of spontaneity, ingenuity, and the investigation of the unconscious disregarding pictorial imagery. Line and color are the basic components underlying the work of the Abstract Expressionists, created through rhythm and movement. Rothko was the leader of the Color Field movement.

The notion that a painting is supposed to inform the viewer dominates. However, unlike art of past generations, the Abstract Expressionists did so in an untraditional manner. Paintings of this modern period were more than a history or religion crash-course. They were on a search for “something” more. This “something” was not “nothing.” In the case of Mark Rothko, the “nothing,” was not only a search from within the artist, but also a search within oneself. “I am interested only in expressing basic human emotions-tragedy, ecstasy, doom,” Mark Rothko.

Let us remember this great artist, and hold him close to our he(ART).

XX, DP

p.s. If you are in London visit his Seagram Murals at the Tate or if you are in Houston, Texas visit the Rothko Chapel.