A wide eye cries over a Ukrainian flag emblazoned with a broken heart and bullet casings, drawing our gaze to the upper left corner of a monumental canvas. Symbolism and surrealism collide as distressed and distorted cubist figures – one wielding a huge assault rifle that commands the center of the boldly colored painting – exhibit the dread and dread of war. Drawing on Picasso’s 1937 anti-war masterpiece, 11-year-old Andres Valencia contemplates the horrors of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bloodthirsty action. Invasion of Ukraine.
His mother, Elsa Valencia, said Andres stayed home from school on March 25, a month and a day after the invasion began, because he felt sick. February 24 marked the escalation of the bitter and simmering eight-year Russian-Ukrainian war, and thrust it into the global spotlight.
“It was March 25. I know the date because when he finished sketching it, he wrote the date and signed on the back of the canvas, so we won’t forget. Andres was in his room while I watched and listened to the news about the war in Ukraine,” Elsa Valencia said. “He was very calm and I went into his room to make sure he was okay. When I walked in I saw a small 12″ x 9” canvas sketched and colored in marker. questions about the painting. He said it was “the invasion of Ukraine”. I was absolutely moved by the painting. I sat there analyzing it. I turned to him and I asked him if he wanted a big canvas. He turned to me and asked if Putin would do ‘something’ to him. I said ‘no, he won’t do anything to you.’ you that he would do something to you? I asked him. He said, ‘because when Picasso painted GuernicaFranco was not happy about it and they wanted to hurt Picasso.
Andres Valencia descended into the living room of his San Diego home and, within nine minutes, sketched the final tableau on a large canvas, Elsa Valencia said.
“When he was done, I sat there and made sure to ask him what exactly it all meant,” she said. “He went through every area and described the whole picture.”
Andres Valencia, who began painting at around five years old while standing on a stepladder to create large-scale works with a mixture of oil sticks, oil and acrylic paint, is also a war history buff. Commander (2022) is a nod to this fascination and a delightful play of a green uniform rising from a lavender background.
“I think history is important and I watch documentaries because I want to learn. All wars are bad. I also get to know the soldiers and what they did in the war. I discovered ( conscientious objector) Private Doss and (the real Rambo, Staff Sergeant Raul Perez) ‘Roy’ Benavidez,” Valencia said. “I think art tells stories and I tell the story of the people Ukrainian and what Russia is doing to him My painting tells a story that cannot be forgotten.
Valencia took the art world by storm, quickly selling out a Chase Contemporary booth at Art Miami last December, where crowds gathered to watch him paint live with Caribbean-American artist Bradley Theodore. People hid under ropes and tried to climb a ladder to get a look at the then 10-year-old virtuoso who sold paintings to celebrities such as Brooke Shields and Sofia Vergara to benefit the Perry J. Cohen Foundation (PJCF), which supports the arts, education and conservation of the environment, sea and wildlife, as well as teen entrepreneurship and boating safety education.
June is an exceptional month for Valencia’s career trajectory. It makes its global auction debut on June 21 at the Phillips 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Hong Kong, when the original Ms. Cube (2020) the painting, used for its first limited edition print, goes on the block. His first solo exhibition opens at Chase Contemporary’s flagship SoHo on June 23, with a reception that evening. Valencia is represented exclusively by Chase Contemporary. Committed to philanthropy, Valencia is donating a painting to be auctioned at the UNICEF Summer Gala on July 30 in Capri, Italy.
Heavily influenced by George Condo, Picasso and Cubism, Valencia combines bold colors and clever fragmented facial compositions to create large-scale, dramatic and vibrant figurative paintings that convey complex narratives. Katalina (2020), depicting a female figure with an elongated neck, a left eye embraced by a blue oval, and pouting crimson lips on a blocky yellow chin, challenges us in its story.
Prolific and prodigious, Valencia paints daily from his home studio, where he also studies art history, watches painting videos and sculpts, developing an interest in a wide range of artists such as Gerhard Richter, Vincent van Gogh, Amedeo Modigliani, Francis Bacon, and Michelangelo. He is also influenced by RETNA, Richard Hambleton, Raphael Mazzucco, Salvador Dalí and other artists his father started collecting around eight years ago.
Valence often begins with small sketches before embarking on larger canvases, guided by her color wheel. Painting several canvases at the same time, Valencia executed many works in about four days, relying on an inspiration that struck at all hours, sometimes waking him from sleep.
Teachers in her California public school’s Visual and Performing Arts Program (VAPA) quickly recognized her exceptional and precocious talent, and her parents immediately encouraged and nurtured her self-expression.
Max the Clown (2022) conveys introspection and engages our eyes in a dance across the canvas, as if we juggle the blue orbs across the body and forehead and green circular cheeks. Pictorial drips bleed from the red wig and a blue dot on the chest. The teacher (2021) stands to the left of the canvas, her multi-faceted facial features and sinuous costume contrasting with the thick brushstrokes on the muted background.
Sometimes he paints in silence, other times he listens to a wide range of music including The Beatles, The Sugarhill Gang, Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, The Animals and James Brown. His subjects include exaggerated human figures and clowns, sometimes inspired by movies and cartoons, “but mostly ideas that come to mind,” Valencia says.