Dipping into the Soul of Valen Valero

Valen Valero
The artist Valen Valero. (Photo taken from a small catalogue of Valero sent to the author in 2016)

It was September of 2016 when I have first “encountered” the work of Valerie Ann Feliza Valero, known to the local art scene as Valen Valero.

One of the owners of The Artologist, an art hub in San Juan City in Metro Manila has approached me and asked me to write a curatorial note for her solo show entitled Impulses.

Personal and Impersonal

Brave Heart
Brave Heart (Acrylic on paper, 21×29; 2017)

The first time that I have laid my eyes on her work, I fell in love so easily—just like a high school teenager who saw the prettiest girl in his campus. And this statement is no exaggeration. And what made me fall in love with the works of this woman visual artist from the historic and beautiful province of La Union, you may ask? Because they were too personal, and also they were, somehow, are impersonal. 

I said too personal for they were part and parcel of Valero’s experiences.

They were her realizations, the fruit of her inner struggles as a woman, as a human being, and as an artist; and the latter is the hat that is most difficult to wear, for an artist is a being of paradoxes, just like what the Bangladeshi author and entrepreneur Faisal Hoque wrote in 2013.

A wanderlust, her works were also chronicles of her travels. They are narratives of the lives of people whom she met and somehow the history of those places that she has been. This makes Valero’s works, somehow, impersonal for they contain, as I have said earlier—in one way or another—stories which are not hers, but ironically, are also part of hers since she’s the one who heard it.

Let Her Works Speak to You

In the one hand, it would be impossible, even for a talented artist like Valero, to put all these stories, realizations, and lessons in a piece of work. On the other hand, because these stories were rendered in a mixture of cubism (as popularized by the Spanish visual artist Pablo Picasso and French painter Georges Braque in the early 20th century) and abstract expressionism (an artistic movement that began in New York in the 1940s, but the style itself has its precursor in Germany and Russia, as evidenced by the works of Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky in the 1920s), and other modified modernist techniques in rendering an art piece (or can we just call Valero’s style, experimental?), it is also quite impossible for an ordinary person, who is not educated in art history and art theory, to understand the artist’s message in full, unless the artist herself would explain the nitty-gritty of the work. Nevertheless, this is the true power of a Valero creation—it can speak for itself and explain itself in myriad ways.

 

Just like in the curatorial note for that exhibit that happened on 24 September 2016, I wrote:

It has been said that a work of art is often the expression of the feelings and thoughts of an artist. And in the case of Valen Valero this supposition has remained true for the pieces being shown today are but the fragments of her thoughts, of her feelings, and her beliefs on how an art should be, and how the beauty of things should be recreated and presented. Nevertheless, putting these fragments together, the audience will have a glimpse of the fullness of the soul and the heart of the artist, who had been creating experimental and abstract pieces that not only arouse the curiosity of her audience, but also engages them into an inner soliloquy. To “experience” the works of Valero is the greatest challenge for the audience for they are not created out of “pure reason” but were crafted out of the impulses that the artist has felt during those critical moment of the creation of the artworks at hand. This might sound absurd, but the creator of these pieces seemed to skip the moment of “conception,” and had just into the process of creation. And the result was an astounding collection of abstract ideas and emotions, which were concretized either on canvas or out of any other materials available. [1]

They maybe made out of things that are discarded (just like in her sculptures) or a combination of paint and other materials on a canvas (which the artist usually does in most of her paintings)—they have their own voice, as the artist has put bits and pieces of her heart and soul, experiences and memories on her work; and that voice speaks directly to the audience, inviting them to feel their own heart and listen to their own soul, just like the artist did during the time that she conceptualizes and works on a piece, and begin to introspect. And when the introspective begins, then inner silence and come will come, then realizations follow.

 

To quote Dominique De Menil,

“But nobody is visually naïve any longer. We are cluttered with images, and only abstract art can bring us to the threshold of the divine.”

Through abstraction, Valero has been able to reach the audience’s inner core, and plant a seed of wonder and awe there, and water it with unpretentiousness (you will never hear Valero to boast about her work, but she will let you come inside her mind and let you explore what is in her heart), and then watch your amazement grow.

***

Nota Bene: Valen and some other artists run a show in Baguio City, at the Tam-awan Village, from June 03 – 30, 2017. You can check it out here. (Updated 08 June 2017, 8:17 PM Manila Standard Time)


[1] From the curatorial note entitled Motus Vita: Impulses of Life and Existence in the Works of Valen Valero (An exhibit note for the Impulses, a solo exhibition of Valen Valerio, The Artologists Gallery, San Juan City, Metro Manila; September 24, 2016)

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