Kiki Valdes, an American with Cuban origin, born in 1981 in Miami and, after studying art and painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, spends several months in painting training at the Walters Museum of Art.
Today Kiki Valdes is known for its curious mix of artistic performances: a blend of cartoon characters and modernity, that recreates images and paintings that wink to the squaring features of cubism and acid colors of the French movement of Fauves. His works, many on sale for those interested, are expressions of characters and colors: reality and invention go hand in hand (www.kikivaldes.com).
After several exhibitions organized at the National Arts Club in New York and Miami, Valdes continues his performances throughout the United States.
Recently his exhibition Cartoons, Cowboys, Abstractions and More, got opened on February 13 at the Art and Culture Center in Hollywood. In it are present works and paintings of 2014 and 2015, and represents an abstract composition, on which the artist has been thinking a lot. The issues relate indeed to the subjects presented in titles, subjects that Valdes much appreciates. Why? “Cartoons are immortal,” says Valdes, “while Cowboys are the symbol of absolute freedom and wild life.” “Rodeo scenes,” represented in some of his works, “are representation of the battle between abstraction and representation, between self-knowledge and no-knowledge.” Battle which, says the artist, involves many people every day. Kiki Valdes continues in his explanation: “People are like the bull in a rodeo, which desperately tries to get rid of authority who is sitting on his back. We aspire to freedom.” The bull theme is not that far from the artist experience who, still teenager in Cuba in his family farm, had a close encounter with a big bull that terrified him. That painting is not just a way of symbolizing, but also to exorcise?
What continues to tell us about Kiki Valdes and his world, not so far from reality, are his paintings. A personal look within where everyone can draw on and play up with one own feelings and thinking.
During Kiki Valde’s new exhibition at the Art and Cultural Center in Hollywood Florida, opened on February 13, 2016 and visitable until March 27, 2016, Urban Mirrors interviewed Kiki and here for our dear readers the exclusive Urban Mirrors interview:
Tell us about your new show “Cartoons, Cowboys, Abstractions and More” that’s currently on view at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood.
The paintings are from 2014, 2015 and I made 2 new ones in time for the show. I’ve had a tug of war with cartoon shapes, figuration and abstraction for some time now. I wanted to show a variety of techniques, color schemes and compositions that I’ve explored and have been thinking about the past several years. Some are more conservative by approach, you know an oil painting on a stretched canvas. Others are more unconventional and raw. I believe the show flows for it’s consistent themes and constitutes expansion in new terrain. I look back as I kick the ball forward. I don’t really believe in invention without knowing the past first.
What are the themes? How do Cartoons, Cowboys and Abstractions tie together?
They are all things I’m interested in. Cartoons are immortal. You can’t kill them off. They live in our minds from childhood. I am most interested in the shapes they make and how it relates so much to my aesthetics. The shapes naturally tie to abstraction. The cowboy to me means uninhibited freedom. Some of the work has rodeo scenes. It’s really a battle of figuration toward abstraction. It’s about knowing ourselves and going into the unknown. I feel this in some ways is how many Americans, how many people in the world feel right now. We are in some ways the bull in the rodeo trying to knock off the authority sitting on our backs. We seek freedom. All these different themes are things I’m interested in, the idea is throwing them all into a pot and somehow creating a visual language that makes me understand them better and better understand where painting can go.
Have you had a real-life situation that inspired you in regards to these paintings?
I guess I can give you one small story. In 2001 I went to Cuba with my mother and my grandfather. We were staying in the farm with family. I went for a walk one day. It was extremely hot and I felt like I was becoming delirious. I just wanted a cup of water with ice. This farm had no ice obviously. I went up a small hill and saw a ragged old fence, I went past the fence because I saw a cow and I wanted to look at it closer out of curiosity. I noticed the cow was not a cow as I got uncomfortably close. It was actually a black bull and it was staring me down while I stood in the middle of this small field. It looked like it wanted to kill me. I will never forget it. I slowly walked back and past the fence to safety. 2 weeks later 911 happened. The new paintings feature a lot of aggressive bulls with men trying to ride them. Weird things like that fall into my paintings somehow. Not sure what it all means, but I don’t think I’m supposed to know. I think it’s about freedom and restraint.
Article by Mariagrazia Roversi