By Heike Dempster, Photography By Heike & Robert Dempster
“Jel, Mariana and I each work very differently but art unites well. I really believe artists have a collective consciousness and I think our works mesh together really nicely even though our objectives are quite different.” Kiki Valdes
The group show “Nuevas Fundaciones” featuring Kiki Valdes, Jel Martinez and Mariana Monteagudo explores the foundation of each artist’s respective practice, their creative inspirations and the artistic expressions thereof.
The cartoon imagery in Kiki Valdes’ paintings represents both, a visual lure and guide that takes the viewer deeper into abstraction.
“I am showing an installation of wood panels titled ‘Disregarded Barn Panels’ (above) which was originally from an installation I made last year called ‘The Barn’ that was a commission for the UR1 festival that was canceled. I decided to deconstruct the original artwork and display it more like a painting on a wall, but something else happens that almost has a chaotic cubist sensibility.”
The cartoon characters provide the first entry point to Valdes’ complex explorations of shapes and form. He paints the excited, cryptic images of bubbly faces and masks to convey a feeling of childhood nostalgia as a visual tactic to address space and form.
“I am also showing a portion of new studies called ‘Cartoon Heads’ and a collage titled ‘Ibex.”
Valdes sees the cartoon imagery as a way to communicate and connect with a wider audience by conjuring their memories. Cartoons have seeped into our consciousness since childhood and the artist uses those recognizable images and memories as a prop for questions about painting and our obsession with the familiar.
Jel Martinez examines graffiti and graffiti buffing, the conceptual meanings of removal and surface texture.
“My work first starts from documenting the removals through photographs I capture in the streets. I then become three different characters, the construction worker who creates the wall, the vandal who defaces the property and the city employee who removes the graffiti.”
Different methods in which graffiti and tags are covered over imbue his paintings with everyday visual realities from the street.
Working on wood panels in his studio he instinctively replicates what happens over the history of a public wall. The result is a figureless expressionism that communicates through a multi-layered use of texture, color, and shape that both obscures and highlights his use of surfaces.
“My work consists of multiple layers which are a reenactment of what is happening in our surroundings and all have a story and memory behind it. I try to give the viewer the opportunity to visualize and understand a movement that previously went untold and unnoticed by the general public.”
Mariana Monteagudo’s dolls evoke images of childhood innocence and horror films, while channeling her obsessive vision through an intelligent use of color and meticulous detail.
“My sculptures are about expression rather than a search of perfection. That’s the beauty of it. Every piece is made by me from scratch trying with all my heart to make them meaningful, to me at least.”
The illusionist landscape created by her dolls is one in which color moves us from one doll to another. In doing so, the viewer absorbs abstracted images of dolls, with colorful familiar bodies, topped by expressive and invitingly disturbing heads.
“My idea is to create fictional characters but with human expressions. I guess they are a very personal and intuitive interpretation of the human psyche. It takes a lot of work to achieve that point when the piece ‘vibrates’ and starts dialoguing with the spectator.”