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Interview: Kiki Valdes

[ 5 February 2013 | Print This Post ]
5 February 2013


Kiki Valdes is a Cuban American expressionist painter, based in New York. His work explores the multidimensional complexities of people, religion, American-life, sex, and superstition. His canvases tend to overlap on top of various unresolved paintings and capture a sense of association, rhythm and conflict. Kiki often refers to his paintings as studies; instead of art history’s draw toward the female or still-life, Valdes explores the use of 1990’s cartoons with expressionistic tendencies. His appropriation of Disney/Nickelodeon characters is a starting point for him to redefine his understanding of the subject. The work can best be described as a marriage between abstract expressionism, cartoons and Caribbean folklore. Unshredded steals some of his time…

Who is Kiki Valdes?

I’m many things to many different people. The lady at the gas station when I’m pumping gas may think I paint houses by what I’m wearing. You know, clothing with paint. My artist friends see me as a painter. I see myself as an artist…but everyone’s an artist…it has such a serious ring to it. I don’t want anyone to take me too damn serious. I’m a guy that likes to change my reality by my decisions I make with creating canvas and hopefully laugh along the way and have fun.

You recently relocated from Miami to New York. How does life as an artist differ in those two cities?

Simple…it’s easy to make art in Miami for the cheap rent and awesome weather. It’s a little harder in cold weather. I dodge New York winters though. I’m in Miami often. New York art and culture is so rich…you walk away with so much information. It can really make you grow. I’m lucky to experience both all the time. I think its doing good things for me and my work.

What defines you as an artist?

I don’t know. I guess a need to create and having the ability to do so. I like to paint too so that helps.

What is your favorite medium and why?

Oil on canvas. I’m boring. I’m not inventing any new devices to make my work. I actually dislike using linseed oil or any other mediums to my paint. I’m pretty bear bones. Don’t get me wrong I love experimenting. But you did ask my favorite…

Can you elaborate and tell us more about your current work?

I’ve been making paintings that have a cartoon quality to them…but at the same time they are painted a bit aggressively and not so much in a traditional cartoon graphic style. Some cartoon shapes would make great abstract paintings. Cartoons are a strong force because they grab us as children….so the moment we see them as adults in a serious context we pay a bit more attention because it pulls us to childhood. The only other power to do that, are parents. I see it as an extremely powerful tool to say something in painting right now. If it wasn’t I wouldn’t bother. For me it’s just a stage where I’m at right now. It makes sense to me.

Where do you see your work going?

I will keep doing this and see where it goes. Just being active and making work and growing…the work will always go somewhere.

You curate shows as well, what, in your opinions, makes a good curator?

I like to organize shows when I can. It’s a great way to work with artist friends and just have a good time and do something exciting for everyone involved. I think the most important thing is having a good idea and a good eye for the work. As long as curators come from a sincere place I can enjoy it. That word curator is funny to me. I just want to put shows together and do something that people can hopefully remember. My main thing is showing work I really believe in and if there’s a way we can share it with a big crowd and get some good things out of it that makes me happy.

Please tell us about your forthcoming group show “Futurespective.”

Well it’s cool because I partnered up with my dealer Mike and got the Rozenblum Foundation involved. The work is really about what is happening in the artist studio right now. It’s really about where these 11 artists are going. They all got different backgrounds. It’s the beginning of something special and we are piecing together all these artists that work very differently but are actively making work. None of these artists… career-wise could have a retrospective at this point in their lives….so its called FUTURESPECTIVE for the works these artists are creating right now will define where they go in their careers in the next 5 to 10 years.

Can you already tell us about your piece in the show?

It’s a little sexual in nature. I think it’s a funny painting.

Do you have any other news you would like to share

I hope to do more than one group show this year. I would like to do more. But, I need to produce work too. I will be showing in some other art fairs this year and my solo show is in April.

– Words by Heike Dempster

 

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