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The Artist's Gaze: Jaime Valero

What compels you to the specific women you choose to paint?

Since most of my pieces are somehow “portraits”, at first, what I look for in the model is that particular face that better fits in the project I am working on. I think the right face, will definitely change the whole concept of the painting.

Latter on, it is equaly important the way she connects with me during the photo shooting. That is the moment when I need her to feel comfortable and show herself natural and spontaneous in the pictures. If this connection does not flow the images will not suggest the idea I am looking for.

When do you know you have made a significant connection to your subject and what does that feel or look like from your perspective?

I perfectly know while I am taking the pictures. I can immediately see if they look like I expected, if she is feeling comfortable and if that is reflecting on the images. Both, faces and poses will change dramatically if this connection happens. When you get this during the shooting, everything comes out easy and intense. 

Tell us about a strong reaction you have received to your work and the impact you sense it has made on the subject, viewer or the greater cultural landscape.

When I got the BMW Painting Prize in 2003 I read about the way the jury had felt the anguish and suffer in the woman on the water of my piece. They even commented on the similarities to the classic “Ofelia” by Millet, drowning in the water. But when I painted that piece I could feel the model´s peacefulness. She actually posed so well that I could get that sense of quietness and the way she connected with what I wanted. To me it was a magic moment of connection between the model and the environment, the water. But obviously the viewers got a very different message from the piece.

I think sometimes you get an unexpected strong reaction to your work and that tells me that, at the end, you are creating a “image”, a special moment that not always will bring the same emotions or reactions on you that it will do on other viewers.

What is it about your personal journey that has brought your gaze to focus so deeply on women.

Though I work with both, male and female themes for my works with water, I have always wanted to capture women in those moments of personal disconnection from their crazy lifes. Shower is to me the perfect time and place to find that special image of relaxed face and body while mind “unplugs” from life for a little while. 

That is exactly what I have tried to get with this particular piece.

Why this visual dialogue? What do you hope to accomplish through your work?

I understand my work as a big puzzle where I will place pieces, one by one, with my paintings, all through my life. Each piece would make no sense without the whole image around. What I try to accomplish with my work is to keep on adding parts of my obsessions, my preferences, my fears through those pieces to the puzzle of my life. 

How does your subject make a change in your artist's gaze?

At first, subject is my choice. I decide what I am going to work on. But then, it could suggest changes and lead to new directions while I am working on the piece. It is always a living part of the process that can add and change my gaze for that piece.

Tell us about your current series or work and how it may be different from the work submitted for the show.

I am currently working on a series of portraits and bodies in the pool. Some from the surface and some underwater. They are completely different cause I enfasize colors and lights creating almost abstract images in some parts of the piece. The surface of the water, when seen from the bottom of the pool, acts like a mirror and creates a world of strong lights and colors, melting with the image of the model.

These new series will be on a solo show at Rarity Gallery, in Mykonos, next Spring.

Didi MenendezComment