Julio Valdez’s exhibition, New Water Paintings, features large, monochromatic paintings that have the light saturated allure and spatial ambiguity of the ocean. The entire series is characterized by transparency and a certain visual instability that leads the viewer to follow oscillating lines and shades of color that whirl like underlying currents, and highlight the shared fluidity of medium and subject.
These paintings are more than formal exercises or records of observed phenomena. Valdez’s water paintings are aquatic theatres, staging grounds for the artist’s reflections on his personal life, and the collective histories of the Caribbean. Valdez has said, “the ocean is both a blessing and a curse”, an acknowledgement that for all its abundance and majesty, the ocean may imprison and exile the islander from the wider world. In Valdez’s water paintings the viewer enters a world where nature and consciousness co-mingle, where the sensuality of the tropics meets the isolation of the island man, and where dreams of transit are tempered by the weight of history.
Julio Valdez was born in the Dominican Republic in 1969 and has lived in New York since 1993. He is the recipient of numerous awards including: a fellowship from the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, New York, 1994; Artist in Residence, Studio Museum Harlem, New York, 1998; Silver Palette, Festival International de la Peinture, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France, 1998; Grand Prize, XVII E. Leon Jimenes Bienal, Dominican Republic, 2000; a Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, New York, 2003; and a National Academy of Arts Fellowship, New York, 2007. His paintings are included in numerous public collections, including El Museo del Barrio, New York; Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
This exhibition is accompanied by a new book, Julio Valdez, text by
Federica Palomero (former Chief Curator, Museum of Fine Arts, Caracas, Venezuela).