Landscape of Mind – Valencia’s Painting

Manuel Valencia - Sea Poems 06The work of Manuel Valencia shows such comprehensiveness that it is hard to define it as a particular kind of painting. This is the result of the openness of expression in his art pieces, which leads to a broad interpretation that transcends the limitations of tradition vs. modernity and East vs. West. His paintings leave a deep impression upon the viewer due to the infiltration and mixture of different mediums that cannot be isolated or enclosed, creating a clearly unique style in the combination of paper, pencil, color and form. Of course, uniqueness and expression are interrelated. Expression is connected with concept, and concept is expressed by form. In other words, if a painter is not able to get an insight of those relations, his or her uniqueness comes to zero. For an artist, a strong personality means bringing out new ideas from the inside in terms of language, concept and form. Valencia has fully believed in his own instinct and judgment. He flexibly deals with the visual relationship between color and pencil, material and form, whether that means keeping a balance between different colors or breaking that balance to create a feeling of flaw; showing relief in the combination of graphics and materiality, or confrontation between mediums. He has studied and experimented all those relationships with delicacy and from his conceptual perspective, building a perfect infrastructure and open language, and resulting in multiple meanings and paths for interpretation.

Valencia has depicted landscape as his subject matter. However, his landscapes are out of ordinary people’s imagination. He has interpreted landscape into the following three levels of meaning: Landscape as a signifier of still time and space; landscape as a poetic metaphor; and landscape as a mixture of narratives. In Valencia’s painting, a landscape describes the extended process of change in a unit of time or space when mixing individual expression and culture. It is the outcome of his choice, a filtration and editing of images, materials and forms. Therefore, his landscapes give way to a myriad of layers of perspectives. Generally, a landscape is a motif of narrative depicting the relations with natural and social environments. The painter’s subjectivity plays a driving role in the use of a piece of landscape as a narrative unit. Thus, what is being chosen and what is being removed become the elements which create a metaphysical visual expression. In his regard, landscape is not an objective record, but a subjective expression. Valencia shows enough artistic sensitivity to turn an objective landscape into the contemplation and metaphor of a subjective landscape. These two levels are completely deprived from the temptation of objective narrative, leading to the viewer’s psyche. This is a form of contraction and expansion of the time and space hidden in the images, in which the changes in landscape illustrate the scenery of the human heart in a gradual process that goes from contemplation to experiencing and ends in meditation. As a result, his works bring the viewer into a space of new imagination. Some of the images may be thought of as heavy rainfalls, vast darkness, calm sea, poetic landscape, infinite universe, broken walls, abstract representations… This kind of open language has undoubtedly been reflected upon the core concept of his paintings.

 For Valencia, it doesn’t matter whether he is describing a figurative landscape or an abstract image, his expression’s motive and process implies a binary relationship between memory and imagination, experience and sentiment, contemplation and meditation. He focuses on exploring and showcasing aspects hidden in the landscape. In other words, this is not a just relationship between form and content, materials and concept, but rather a new and contemporary expression of landscape linked to nature, society, tradition, language and experience. All of this can only be attained through the artist’s unique methodology and the right use of paper, rope, plasters, cardboard, pencil, acrylic, ink and wash in form, as well as through a smooth handling of proportion in composition, delicacy and heaviness in color, lightness and darkness in the use of ink, and freedom and rigidness in completeness. As we can see, his paintings reflect his aesthetic taste and pursuit of simplicity in texture, wrinkles, grains, abstraction and reality, movement and stillness. Sometimes he even attaches images, adds drawings or handwrites random characters on the already finished piece of work, revealing the beauty of hand-made painting, creating a sense of ebb and flow on the peaceful texture of the rice paper, and adding movement to the picture with a perfect sense of verse and rhythm. This landscape construction method make the viewer feel as if intoxicated in the realm of poetry.

 We could say that Valencia’s work fully presents the characteristics of a “physical painting”. He masters the use of traditional Chinese Xuan rice paper as his media of expression, adding on top daily life objects in order to enhance its vivid and expressive language. Of course we cannot deny the “physical” aspects of his paintings, but the full extent of use of that “physicality” further indicates that the material media itself is both an entity of objectivity and subjectivity. In other words, it has the function of words, and the implication of the multi-layered referential meaning. From such a perspective, Valencia spreads live materials on rice paper, thus changing the expression of unity in paper and brush, and dipping into a form of painting that uses those materials as if they were words, instantly activating the meaning of the painting and the connotations of the objects, and assuring the inseparable relationship between form and material. Thus, in order to understand the visual implications of his work, one must comprehend materials and implied meanings in the physical properties of painting. It is obvious that the artist has given spiritual connotations to the materials in his series of works, and presented a wide variety of shape and texture in a way similar to sculpture or collage. This confirms that material is no longer reduced to lines and color, but also a way to highlight the performance of independent media. It also means an interactive relationship between the material itself and the formal infrastructure of meanings within the painting (i. e., imagery, semantics and metaphor).

 In addition to materials and subject matter, one of the most impressive aspects of Valencia’s work is that his small-scale paintings on rice paper (CARTAS) can be installed into a larger piece of work, linking originally separate drawings in a much bigger whole. Each piece composes its visual expression by space, material and color, highlighting a closed and self-insurmountable world, despite the intuition to comprehend the inner realm of silence, quiet, Zen and meditation.

It is clear that Valencia has very well interpreted the dimension of contemporary art expression. His creativity started from simple aesthetics, adopting open methodologies and image narrative, highlighting materials to express the purity of spiritual nature and the subjective wishes of an artist, and offering infinite imagination to its viewer.

Curated by Huang Du (Translated by Jin Hua)

Manuel Valencia - Sea Poems 30


以物质为出口

——瓦伦西亚的绘画

黄 笃 策展人 

曼努埃尔瓦伦西亚(Manuel Valencia)绘画所展现的综合性,几乎难以界定其绘画类型,这是因为他在作品语言上呈现出开放性,这种语言的开放也意味着解读的开放,即穿越了传统与现代、东方与西方的界限与范式。他的作品给人以深刻印象就在于他有意将媒介相互渗透和融合,使其无法完全被隔离和封闭起来,不断让材料、铅笔、色彩和形式在交融中形成鲜明的个性风格。当然,个性与语言相关,语言被观念牵动,观念则以形式的显现。换言之,倘若不能充分洞察到这些信息,那么画家个性就等于零。如果艺术家想成为一个有个性的人,就必须从内向外充分展现作品在语言、观念和形式上的新意。所以,瓦伦西亚充分相信自己的直觉与判断,他的纸上作品常采用某些轻盈的现成物材料和随意性绘画的表现手段,通过主观的物化过程,将之转化为充满独特视觉语言的审美形式。他灵活处理了颜色、铅笔、物质、形式之间的视觉关系:无论是在形式和色彩的关系上力保画面的均衡性,还是在整体与局部的关系上打破平衡尺度而展现的“缺陷”感,无论是在纸本平面与材料的关系上着意彰显其材料的浮雕感,还是把材料与材料之间处理成“对抗”状态,他以细致入微和观念的眼光对这些层层关系进行了特别精细的研究与实验,建构了结构精巧、开放的绘画语言,而赋予诸多含义,提供了开放性的解读途径。

瓦伦西亚的绘画以风景为表现对象,不同于一般人想像的风景,他把风景理解成这样三个层面的含义:风景是一种时空的凝缩。风景是一种诗意的隐喻。风景是一种混合的叙事。在瓦伦西亚的绘画中,风景描述的是一个时间、空间单位怎样向个人主观表达和文化融合转变的延展过程,它是经由他选择、过滤和编排的图像、物质与形式所生成的结果。因此,他表现的风景向我们打开了多层视角。一般而言,风景是与自然环境和社会环境相关的叙事主体,尤其在以风景空间为叙事的单位中画家的主观性起到内在动力作用,即如何在选择与取舍中形成形而上的视觉语言。这里,风景并不是客观的记录,而是主观的表现。于是瓦伦西亚有着足够的艺术敏感度,把客观之景转换成主观之景的凝视和隐喻,这种双层所指彻底摆脱了风景客观叙事的诱惑,将观者引向心理层面——这是对隐于图像的时空维度的凝缩与展开,透过景色之变化以探视人的内心景观,即凝视到体验再到冥想的渐进过程。因此,他的这些作品就把人引入新的遐想空间,有的(图像)似暴风骤雨,有的如茫茫黑夜,有的像宁静海面,有的如诗意山水,有的似浩瀚宇宙,有的像残垣墙壁,有的如抽象物象,…… 这种开放性的语言无疑证明了他绘画的观念核心。

在瓦伦西亚看来,无论描绘的是具象的风景,还是表现的是抽象的物象,画家的表现动机与过程无非为我们暗示了记忆与联想、体验与感悟、凝视与冥想的二元关系。他重视挖掘和展示风景隐藏和引伸的东西,也就是说,这不仅仅是形式与内容、物质与观念的关系,而是如何在风景与自然、风景与社会、风景与传统、风景与语言、风景与经验的关系中转译和生成新的当代绘画语言。这一切完全取决于艺术家独特的方法论来实现,他在形式上把握宣纸、绳子、石膏、卡纸、铅笔、丙烯、水墨之关系得当,即(构图)多与少、(色彩)轻与重、(墨色)浓与淡、(整体)收与放之间的尺度处理自如。正如我们所看到的那样,他的绘画尽现了个人对质朴、褶皱、肌理、虚实、动静美学品味追求,有时他甚至以偶发式方法用铅笔在已完成的绘画作品上紧贴宣纸随意涂划或书写文字,既显示了绘画手工性的魅力,又让平静的画面顿起波澜,增添了其动态形貌,尽现韵律感和节奏感如此方法聚合的景象,犹如让人陶醉于诗性之境界。

可以说,瓦伦西亚的作品尽现物质绘画之特点。他擅长用中国传统宣纸作为表现媒介,并将许多日常物质掺入纸上,以增强其语言生动性与表现力。当然,既然无法回避他绘画的物质性,那么物质的充分运用进一步表明:物质材料既被作为自在之物,又是主观之物。也就是说,它具有词语的功能,并蕴涵了多层的指涉含义。从这一角度看,瓦伦西亚将具有生命感的材料分布于宣纸,这种方式改变了纸笔表现的单一性,以具有词语般的材料介入绘画形式,立刻激活了画面意味,既让材料显现出物自身的意义,又确证形式与材料不可分离的关系。在这个意义上,倘若要理解他的作品视觉内涵,就必须在物质绘画属性上解读材料所隐含和呈现的意义。显然,在系列作品中,他赋予了材料一种精神内涵,以类似雕塑或材料拼贴的手法塑造或表现出各种各样肌理幻象,既确证材质不再沦为线条、色彩的附庸,又凸显其具有独立表现性的媒介,又说明了艺术家观念与作品材料的互动关系,从而使材质本身与形式结构之间建构和凸现了绘画自身的意义,即意象、语义和隐喻。 

除了绘画的物质性所构成的特点,瓦伦西亚的作品给人最深刻的印象在于他的一幅幅小纸本画能拼成一组组既独立又关联的大画组合,每一幅画由空间、物质和色块构成视觉语言,显出一种萧瑟、孤寂、焦虑感,而其形式被提炼和简化为能触动人心灵深处的意象,仿佛一个闭合的、难以逾越自我世界,任凭直觉去感悟内心之境的沉默、宁静、禅意和冥想。

显然,瓦伦西亚深谙当代艺术的语言维度,他的绘画创作以简朴美学为出发,采用开放的表现方法与图像叙事,强调以绘画的物质性表现纯粹的精神性——既表达了艺术家个人的主观意志,又给予观众无限的想像。

Islados: Liminal Crossings

Manuel Valencia - Sea Poems 21At first glance, Islados, a series of monochromatic, mixed-media seascapes by the contemporary Spanish artist Manuel Valencia, seems to stage a poetics of the inner sanctum, drawing from the artistic legacy of Romanticism, Abstract Expressionism, and Minimalism. In open marine vistas, Valencia’s two-tiered compositions usher forth an ocean horizon, submersed in an illusory dream, as a distant periphery that evokes a poignant confluence of the complete and the unattainable. Reminiscent of the spectral horizons seen in the spiritually inspired works of Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly and Gerard Richter, Valencia’s Islados envelopes our eyes in an immense visual field, evoking a sensory experience of infinity, and internalizing the sublime as if an extension of the self. In an artist statement, Valencia describes Islados as “A dream with a start and an end, but no shoreline. The artist’s loneliness, empty and wide like the sea, an isolated being, secluded but independent…an endless landscape but only in the limit of our eyesight.”

The act of seeing, upon the threshold between darkness and light, is an emotive response that has historically enthralled thinkers and artists over time and across cultures. It is that momentary crossover of realms when subjectivity is transferred from a primal consciousness towards a heightened self-awareness, from body to mind. Through an experience of light differentials, a boundary on the cusp of inner consciousness emerges. Fraught with enriched meanings and interpretations in philosophy, science, literature, and psychology, as such, it is inevitable that such a boundary would also yield itself to the most inspired artistic interpretations.

Yet Islados is galvanized by a more complex vision than being simply distilled, lyrically romantic self-portraits of the lone artist. When evaluated in the cross-cultural palette of methodology and media in which Valencia actively engages, something new, original, and intriguingly significant about Islados emerges.

Born in Madrid, Valencia was raised along the shores of Spain’s northern Basque country. Passionate about art, in youth, he had visited studios of Spanish and Dutch artists known especially for their sensitivity to light and for openness to chance and spontaneity in the creative process. Valencia’s four years of training in Stichting de Vrije Academie voor Beeldende Kunst, The Hague, Netherlands grounded him in drawing, composition and contemporary theory. He trained as a figurative artist for nearly fourteen years, leaning on surrealism, also familiarizing himself on canvas and wood, with acrylic, watercolor, and tempera glazing technique of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance. A seasoned world traveler given his former occupation as a full-time businessman, Valencia admits being “porous to external influences” and open to explore what he calls “the sediments from life experiences. A trip to Kyoto fifteen years ago was an eye-opening experience that regaled his sensuality to the Chinese aesthetics of the Tang and the Song dynasties. The revelation of Asian aesthetics as an alternative way of seeing and creating, according to Valencia, “had changed me as a man, as an artist.”

 Manuel Valencia - Sea Poems 28

Valencia calls Islados, “Landscape of strings… a fight between concept and emotion against a dramatic background”. From frame to frame, lines gesticulating such psychosomatic tensions are rampant. In the form of mangled threads, found yarn, and twisted fibrous paper strings, a spectrum of undulating lines protrude from Valencia’s ink-brushed surface, engaging our eye in a raw optical dance. Adventurous, edgy and exuberant, Valencia’s rugged lines seemingly resonate with the abandon of cursive calligraphic script. They exalt a similar freedom in the process of becoming and a brimming energy as if brushwork in execution.

Fastened onto the supple leniency of Chinese rice paper, his gnarling lines of threads wage a gestural performance against established artistic conventions. Like characters on a theatrical stage, his lines rhythmically pulsate, at times in a murmuring whisper, at times in a thunderous torrent, taking the shapes of small letters, poetic stanzas, storms, atmospheric winds, explosions, and eruptions, crisscrossing and converging into wavelengths of dots, scribbles, knots, and turbulence. Visible here is not a mere invitation into a mindful infinity, but rather, the artist’s deliberate hand at gouging, scrapping and scratching, and his conscious effort at deconstruction and reconstruction. Between carnality and abstraction, Valencia fashions lines, forms, and materials that protrude three-dimensionally, like bodily extensions dominating the space. In more than a few works, a leftward shore juts forth repeatedly, butting into the ocean to intercept the horizon. More animalistic than passive, in their edgy embodiments, these left banks molded from paper-Mache repeatedly exert their muscular contortions. They are carnal, visceral, barbaric things that interfere to thwart our gaze towards the infinite.

Valencia’s inventive shape of the shore, the mountains, and the lines, exude a visceral strength, authoritatively possessing the space in which they are placed. Valencia uses literary elements to imbue his art with meaning. In one notable piece, he alludes to the nihilist themes of death, void, and despair, handwriting stanzas directly from T.S. Eliot’s elegiac post-war poem, “The Hollow Man.” The themes of translucency and fragility, in its open-endedness to crossings and destruction, also come to play a portentous role in Valencia’s art. In a haunting installation, Valencia lifts the entire spectrum of his fibrous threads, off the canvas, suspending them as if a faint curtain of torn webs, making the piece, accessible from all views, but ultimately vulnerable and eroding in form and material.

On a paper surface such as the Chinese rice paper, especially one that is intimately loaded with cultural and historical references to spatiotemporal seclusions, Valencia’s stringed seascapes wage a sensory battle, to stretch open a volatile horizon of sensual guises and quintessentially calling into question our acculturated habits of seeing at the threshold of perception. From frame to frame, the viewer is lured into an open-ended identification process that is at once afloat, disconnected, always negotiating for coherence, but never ending. Islados solicits us to enter into an open acceptance of conflated recognitions across borderlines and boundaries. It is from this view that Valencia’s own dual identity as an artist and as the incumbent Ambassador of Spain to China becomes a stirring embodiment of an authentic, all-consuming aesthetic experience at the crossing of the self and the world.

An essay for the artist Manuel Valencia For Sea Poems: Recent Works by Manuel Valencia An exhibition at Yuan Space, Beijing CHINA, March 2015

By Yiling Mao Founder and Executive Director, Art Collectives, NY

A.B., A.M., East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University M.Phil, Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University Former Director of Sotheby’s; Special Advisor to Sotheby’s Institute of Art at Tsinghua University Special Advisor to Beijing International Culture Center China Advisory Board Member, Lincoln Center for Performing Arts

Recent works “Botanical Poems”

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Recent works “Islados”

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Exposición “Cartas y Pizarras”, Galería Astarté, 2011 – Madrid

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Manuel Valencia. Letters and Slates 

C/ Monte Esquinza, 8.  Desde el 27 de octubre de 2011

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Art is perfect when it resembles nature
And nature, in turn, when art is disguised silently

Pseudo-Longino, De sublimitate

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Patience: losing time in small apparently insignificant things, taking time to stare calmly without any rush.  These are clues for facing the frantic pace in which we seem to live today, and are reveling tips to understand  the work  of Manuel Valencia (Madrid 1954),  where technique and concept  fuse and  establish a permanent dialogue between art and nature.

On this his first individual exhibition at the ASTARTÉ Gallery, Valencia exhibits his most recent works which bear the name, “Letters and Slates”,   two series on which he has been working  in parallel during past three years. The expressive strength of his works stems from the purity of essence that the painter finds brooding over nature through observing simple leafs, flowers and landscapes.

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On the delicate Chinese papers, that Valencia has used as support (and which he selected one by one in Beijing) for his drawings, he reflects his western heritage of expressive gestures and the freedom of execution as well as the nude simplicity of the oriental art. However his art cannot be consider merely as pure expression, reflection of reality, because what is depicted goes far more than a pretext, because its ultimate goal is to seek answers through shapes and introspection.

Valencia´s frequent trips to China and Japan have had a very strong influence in way he portrays what he sees.  Although he frequently says that his work is “a European stroll through eastern art” and has never allowed his essence as an individual of western culture   to fade away in the collective sense of Asia. Very similarly  to what happened to Henri Michaux, in which all influence of  Chinese art and calligraphy was diluted and  embodied in his ink drawings,  which main theme was the desperate search for the artist self, his own search as an individual.

Similarly to Michaux, Manuel Valencia takes from the East only what interests him, like painting materials that he combines with western ones   and experiments through a contemporary language. He is attracted to those elements of nature that we consider insignificant, observing them closely, until he becomes dazzled by them. He combines poetry, calligraphy and painting,  following his  own rules, but giving priority to  the continuous flow of spontaneous ideas, tipical of  surrealism,  rather than to the  use  of a self contained   speech  or a set of signs. 

Undeniably of Eastern origin, the concept of analogy is present throughout his work.  The painter became interested in flowers and leafs when he realized that everything in nature is based on something else. Even things that pass without being noticed at men´s eyes, acquire significance in life. The tiny leaf, the stem or roots are equal in importance to the forest, seas and mountains. And so, each one of us, individuals apparently insignificant, are meaningful not only for humanity but for nature. Inside this universe of relations in which nothing is by itself, in which all is sustained by all, Manuel Valencia has escaped from the decorative and purely aesthetic aspect of nature to which is very frequently consigned by Western art and gives back to nature its essential role as life giving source.

In his latest work, “Slates”, he follows the same plastic trend of leafs and flowers of previous exhibitions with detailed craft in large format `paintings and with close-ups that give the spectator a new perspective from which to deal with nature in a way never before considered. We could say that nature has been raised to the superior category of a portrait, by using black flat backgrounds in which the figures seem to be floating and avoiding any sense of spatial rationality. It is also remarkable the usage of whites that spark on the vegetable motives which display an aestheticism (otherwise constant in all his work) that seems to stop time. The painter conceived these series and refers to them as well, as “still life”, instead of using the Spanish term of “Death Nature” (“Naturaleza Muerta”). And, indeed, in these images life seems to be frozen hadn´t it been for the presence of some writing sketches, which significance runs far beyond words and their meaning. As Bachelard would have said, “Some words are in full bloom, in their prime life”.

On its part “Letters” is an inner journey in which each image connects with   the other through a common bond: the small cape “Punta de Coves Blanques” in Mallorca.   Landscapes are always the result of a struggle between the “lines of force” that the painter has inherent in his language and those of nature itself. In this case, the outcome of the confrontation varies. Sometimes matter wins, others writing or gesture does. Despite all this, the exhibition structure is coherent in a manner that is difficult to explain perhaps because of the essential truth which is the flow of things.

Neither the Cape nor the sea represent here more than a link, a steady bond through which to watch the always changing reality, always in transit. Perfect metaphor for the act of seeing because what we are aware of is never the same. How we see things changes every second, (like us, we mute into something else) and with it everything that surrounds us. And again, once again, writing appears in each image, fluid, continuous, liquid as the sea water or clouds.

The final paradox is the excellent result achieved by the painter to capture the flow and movement through repetition, apparently the opposite principle. Valencia has decided to base this work on the repetition of the motifs; its appearance and language are constantly changing but the Mallorca´s sea landscape appears again and again, structuring all of his work.

When Kierkegaard states that all life is a repetition, he did not mean that we should build our life based on looking backward, living on memories. On the contrary, it is through repetition understood as a form of “forward memory” where we will find that the existence that is, what has been, now comes into existence again, just like in the work of Manuel Valencia. He probably would have never guessed that repetition would be the definitive journey through which he would discover himself.

Jennifer Calles

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Cartas y Pizarras – Galería Astarté, 2011 – Madrid

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Download complete catalogue in pdf – Descargar pdf catálogo completo

Manuel Valencia – Catálogo Cartas y pizarras, Galería Astarté, 2011

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El arte es perfecto cuando parece ser naturaleza, y la naturaleza, a su vez, da en el blanco cuando encierra el arte imperceptiblemente.

Pseudo-Longino, De sublimitate

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Paciencia: saber dedicar tiempo a las cosas; tomarse un momento para mirar, sin apresurarse, con calma. Esa es, frente al ritmo frenético en el que nos vemos hoy imbuidos, la clave de una producción reveladora como la que lleva a cabo Manuel Valencia (Madrid 1954), en la que artesanía y concepto se aúnan para llevarnos ante un permanente diálogo entre arte y naturaleza.

En su novena exposición individual, primera en la Galería ASTARTÉ, Valencia presenta sus trabajos más recientes, “Cartas y Pizarras”, dos series a las que ha dedicado los últimos tres años y cuya fuerza expresiva arranca de la estética pureza de lo esencial que el pintor encuentra en hojas, flores o paisajes.

En los delicados papeles chinos que le sirven como soporte y que él mismo busca uno a uno y trae del gigante asiático, Valencia propone una ejecución plástica que refleja tanto la herencia occidental de la gestualidad expresiva y matérica como la sutileza y el despojamiento propios de la influencia oriental.

Así, nos encontramos ante una obra que no puede enmarcarse dentro de la pura expresividad, pero que tampoco considera la representación más allá de un simple pretexto, pues su fin último es la búsqueda de respuestas a través del paciente camino que va desde la forma hacia la introversión.

Inevitablemente, los frecuentes viajes que el pintor ha realizado a China y Japón han influido de forma decisiva en su forma de ver, de mirar. Sin embargo, él mismo reconoce que su trabajo no deja de ser un “paso occidental por oriente” en el que la subjetividad e independencia no han permitido nunca que su gesto de sujeto desaparezca. Algo parecido ocurría con la figura de Henri Michaux, en el que toda la influencia del arte y caligrafía chinos se veía rápidamente diluida al plasmarse en unos dibujos cuyo principal tema era la desesperada búsqueda del yo del artista, su propio descubrimiento.

Del mismo modo que Michaux, Manuel Valencia también coge de Oriente sólo lo que le interesa: recuperando sus materiales, pero mezclándolos con otros y experimentando a través de un lenguaje contemporáneo; deteniéndose ante aquellos elementos de la naturaleza que nos resultan insignificantes, pero deshaciéndolos en muchas ocasiones y buscando en ellos siempre su propio deslumbramiento; uniendo poesía, caligrafía y pintura dentro de sus principios artísticos, pero dando prioridad al fluir de pensamientos automáticos propio del surrealismo más que a cualquier elaboración de un discurso congruente o una lógica de signos.

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Sin duda, la influencia más irrefutablemente oriental de su trabajo reside en el concepto de analogía que lo recorre de principio a fin. Nuestro pintor comenzó a detener su atención en flores y hojas porque descubrió que todo se apoya en algo. Incluso aquellas cosas que pasan más desapercibidas ante nuestra mirada, adquieren una trascendencia esencial dentro del orden de la vida. La hoja, el tallo o la raíz son equiparables en importancia a bosques, mares o montañas. Y así, cada uno de nosotros como individuo, signos prácticamente inapreciables de la humanidad, dotamos a ésta de sentido. Dentro de este universo de relaciones en el que nada es por sí sólo, en el que todo se sustenta en todo, Manuel Valencia ha querido desligar a la naturaleza de esa condición decorativa y estética a la que a menudo se ve relegada por las premisas del arte occidental y devolverle su papel fundamental como fuente de vida.

Con el último de sus trabajos, “Pizarras”, continúa la línea de las hojas y flores pintadas con minuciosa habilidad, en grandes formatos y con primerísimos planos frontales que proporcionan al espectador un punto de vista nuevo desde el que abordar una parte de la naturaleza que nunca ha sido propiamente considerada y que aquí se eleva, podríamos decir, a la categoría del retrato. Sin embargo, en este caso nos encontramos con la peculiaridad de unos fondos planos y negros en los que las figuras parecen flotar y que anulan cualquier sensación espacial racional. Además, el blanco con el que fulgura este reducido número de motivos vegetales hace gala de un cromatismo ascético,constante por otra parte en toda su producción, capaz de parar el tiempo. El pintor concibe esta serie como un bodegón al que prefiere referirse con la expresión “still life” frente al concepto tradicional de “naturaleza muerta”. Y es que, efectivamente, en estas imágenes parecería que la vida se hubiese detenido de no ser por la presencia de unos esbozos de escritura cuyo trazo corre más allá de las palabras y su significado. Como diría Bachelard, existen palabras que están en plena floración, en plena vida.

“Cartas” por su parte constituye un viaje interior en el que cada imagen depende de las demás, teniendo todo el conjunto un nexo común: la Punta de Coves Blanques en Mallorca. En la pintura, el género del paisaje es siempre resultado de una lucha entre las líneas de fuerza que el pintor lleva intrínsecas en su lenguaje y las de la propia naturaleza. En este caso, el resultado final de dicho enfrentamiento es variable. Unas veces gana la materia, otras la escritura o el gesto. Y a pesar de ello, el montaje proporciona una coherencia al conjunto difícilmente explicable, fruto quizás de la verdad fundamental que constituye el fluir de las cosas.

Ni la Punta ni el mar representan aquí algo más que un enlace, un vínculo insistente a través del cual contemplar la realidad siempre cambiante, siempre en tránsito. Perfecta metáfora del acto de ver, que tampoco es nunca el mismo. La mirada se transforma a cada segundo, (como nosotros mismos, deviene) y con ella todo aquello que nos rodea. Y de nuevo, una vez más, la escritura aparece en cada imagen fluida, continua, líquida, como el agua.

..La paradoja final resulta del excelente resultado que consigue nuestro autor al plasmar ese fluir y esa circulación continúa a través del recurso, en principio opuesto, de la repetición. Valencia ha decidido basar su obra en la repetición de motivos, pero aunque el paisaje mallorquín aparece una y otra vez, su aspecto y su lenguaje están en perpetuo cambio.

Cuando Kierkegaard dice que toda la vida es una repetición, no se refiere a que debamos construir la nuestra en base al movimiento de retroceso que supone el recuerdo. Muy al contrario, es a través de la repetición entendida como forma de memoria hacia delante donde encontraremos que la existencia, esto es, lo que ya ha existido, empieza a existir ahora de nuevo. Fijémonos en la obra de Manuel Valencia… quién le iba a decir a este pintor que la repetición sería el viaje definitivo a través del cual se descubriría.

Jennifer Calles

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CARTAS es una correspondencia sin destinatario ante de un mar bravo, solitario y obsesivo.

Surgen con dibujos y palabras –que para el caso es lo mismo-, como un libro sin comienzo de nubes, mareas, horizontes, lunas y olas.

Rompí a escribirlas compulsivamente tras ocho años delante de ese trozo de mar, observando esa realidad acuosa, cambiante. El sismógrafo del dibujo recogía también cambios, ansiedades o lo que ese día me reventaba en la cabeza, confirmando el perpetuo movimiento entre observador y observado. CARTAS se fue convirtiendo en un viaje estático hacia dentro.

El lenguaje varía, se superpone, teniendo como nexo, casi tautológico, un motivo central, la Punta –pues no llega a cabo- de Coves Blanques con la que cohabito año tras año y que constituye mi horizonte visual persistente. Cartas se traban poco a poco con: tintas, grafito, cuerdas, algodón, vendas, acrílicos, arena sobre papel hecho a mano.

La obra tiene sentido en su conjunto, en la pluralidad, nunca en la unidad. Es como la naturaleza: todo se apoya en algo.

Al final, comprendí que no pintaba ni la Punta ni el mar, sino el acto de mirar, de ver despacio, para descubrir que detrás de cada imagen hay siempre otra imagen y después otra, buscando siempre, pues la realidad no es la que vemos.

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