Julio Valdez, Nature: Prints, Drawings and Mixed Media
Thursday, October 18, 2012
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
This event repeats every weekday between 9/13/2012 and 10/25/2012.
Please note: This event has already taken place. Please use the Search options on the right to find upcoming events.
The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is pleased to announce Nature: Prints, Drawings, and Mixed Media, an exhibition of works on paper by artist Julio Valdez, curated by Graciela Kartofel. This show includes twenty-one works created during the past two decades of Valdez’ artistic career. Utilizing nontraditional materials and processes, he explores the inseparable spiritual relationship between man and his natural environment; on view through September 13th through October 25, 2012.
Deeply influenced by his Dominican cultural heritage, which has instilled in him an acute connection to nature, Valdez continues to search for and contemplate his own identity. The resulting works use a visual language that echoes traditional Latin American mythology and simultaneously blends his past and present. The mythical nature of Caribbean culture is evident in each of Valdez’s works—he uses ancestral symbols with a profoundly sincere contemporary approach. The lizard, turtle, and yucca plant, all indigenous to the Dominican Republic, are regularly featured in his works and emphasize the bond with his homeland despite his residence in New York City. However, Valdez states, “The physical and psychological distance from my birthplace has allowed a critical distance for re-examining my origins [which has] triggered gradual changes in my artistic vocabulary.”
These intimate works on paper are rich and fragmented scenes where the human body is entangled in a sea of colorful symbols and textures. Paying homage to a tradition of quilting, Valdez employs a system of layered earthen tones, prints, drawings, and other media. These built surfaces are tactile as they are vibrant and have spontaneity similar to surrealist automated drawings. The silhouette plays a prominent role in his work, referencing traditional portraiture’s look inward, but his lack of identifying features transforms them into “the everyman.” Kartofel notes, “Although some are self-portraits, it is frequent for the artist to say, ‘This is my brother… this is my son.’ Each portrait is not only physiognomic, but it is also a study of the relation and interaction between humans and nature.”
The complexity of his artistic process has also led to fruitful explorations of the printmaking process itself. Valdez is a master at combining revolutionary techniques and traditional methods, blurring the boundaries between mediums, as he inserts hand worked elements and torn paper in his prints. He often combines processes such as embossment, à la poupée, chine collé, monotype, silk aquatint, and solar plate printmaking. These processes are directly linked to the themes in his work—his hand application and other direct methods honor ancient cultural traditions of Africa and Latin America.
A native of Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic, Julio Valdez moved to the United States in 1993 after receiving a fellowship to work at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in New York City. A painter, printmaker and mixed media artist whose work has been exhibited internationally, he has received numerous prestigious international awards, including an Artist-in-Residence Fellowship at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City (1997-98), the Silver Palette for Painting at the XXXeme Festival International de la Peinture, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France (1998), the Grand Prize at the XVII E. Leon Jimenes Biennial, the Dominican Republic (2000), and the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2003), among others. Valdez’s work can be found in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Instituto de Artes Graficas Oaxaquena in Oaxaca, Mexico, among others. He currently lives and works in New York City. Julio Valdez’s Harlem studio offers print workshops, lectures and classes, for more information visit www.juliovaldez.com.
Nature: Prints, Drawings, and Mixed Media will travel to the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, Connecticut. On view December 2, 2012 - January 27, 2013.
The Arsenal Gallery is dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, wildlife, New York City parks, and park history. It is located on the third floor of the NYC Parks & Recreation headquarters, in Central Park, on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for holidays. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/parks/art or call 212-360-8163.