“All we hope to do at the Foundation is to help people learn to see not only pictures but every other object and situation in life.”
Dr. Albert Barnes
Human civilization has a time-honored tradition of using imagery to infuse and establish it’s societal ideals, norms and political views. More generally, we use imagery to shape how and what we feel about ourselves. In religious circles, imagery is used to communicate the Churches ideological principles to its followers. Consider that during the onset of the Catholic church, reading was reserved for the privileged elite. The Church figured out early on that they could use imagery in the form of painting to articulate religious text to their loyal followers; a means to proliferate their political agendas.
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL
It goes without saying, that Dr. Barnes produced one of the greatest private art collections of all time. More over, by establishing the Barnes foundation he was able to organize each of the works in a manner that showed their relational value to one another; threading a needle that demonstrated how all humanity is connected: our common thread so to speak.
The important takeaway from this is that the Barnes Foundation presented a vehicle that serves as a reminder of who we are and where we were once position in time: it revealed insights about the history of our culture and civilization. Fast forward and civilization has entered a new age of modernity: the age of Quantum computing. No longer is the world algorithmically viewed as mere 1’s and 0’s—we’ve expanded exponentially to multiple iterations and combinations of these two sets simultaneously.
If I may digress, not since the advent of photography, has there been a technological innovation that pushed artists to rethink how they both viewed the world and what they were creating. Enter the Cubist art movement—with its fractured planes—simultaneously depicting the multiple perspectives of a subject; a clear departure from the traditional convention of how reality was interpreted and articulated.
“Its hard to understand any of the major developments in art, without an understanding of the key role played by changing depictions of naked men and women.”
Tim Marlow, Art Historian
In the same way imagery is used to communicate ideas and convey power, the human form—in particular the female nude as an art form—communicates and projects societal mores. It reflects the ideas we share about ourselves and how they shape and sculpt society and our history as the human race.
One of the most import art works of all time, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, forever changed how people viewed art and the nude figure. It was a work that during its onset, set the world ablaze breaking down long storied traditions of how art should be created and how the female nude was to be viewed. A truly revolutionary work for the ages.
At present, humanity is within the throws of another evolution. In some regards people are more liberated now than ever in recorded history; the LGBTQ community is more integrated within the fabric of society, the advent of the share economy is changing the way we earn our livings, internet influencers have augmented traditional norms of marketing, and mom’s are now the bread winners while fathers are home watching the children. The world is changing. If history serves us correctly, these societal changes will become self-evident within the depicting of the human form—or rather the depictions of the human form will be reflected in these changes.
IN WITH THE NEW
Grounded in classical and traditional painting techniques, Valera has emerged as a (Meta)Modern Master. As if he were transported from a time past, he is the NOW. His approach is emblematic of the the time we are in. The female form has changed once again: it’s complex, fragmented, sensuous and voluminous. This new form serves as a mirror of sorts for who we are as a society and where we are positioned within the pantheon of technological innovation.
Connecting the etherial and the now by way of the female form, Valera is representing the ideas of Metamodernism. He is changing the female form by simultaneously restoring it to its inherent nature and presenting in a new way. It elevates the status of being a woman; highlighting the beauty of being a woman with rhythm, line, and form.
Yet, Valera isn't defining women. He’s painting the essence of life.
Throughout history women has been censored and not allowed to show their true form. Valera’s female nudes are uncensored. She becomes the interface to your interior world. You are divine from the inside out. No one is telling you how to be. Abstractly bending dimensions, you are free to imagine and color your own world. That is the fantasy coalescing with reality where anything is possible.