- Chris Valentine
The view that ‘ignorance is bliss’ is a contentious one in an age where access to information is at its highest point in history.
In B L I S S, Chris Valentine uses traditional media to explore problematic aspects of digital society, from the paradoxical isolation felt by many and the spread of misinformation, to identity formation, anonymity and the influence of online political protest (text continues below images).
Smoke grenades and the masks of hacker group Anonymous contend with more ordinary scenes of urban disconnection. Lonely figures emerge from chaotic backgrounds, framed by abstracted architecture. The overall sense is of unrest.
By anchoring his imagery in the quotidian world and isolating individuals within each work, Valentine is encouraging his viewers to examine their own experiences and beliefs. He questions the disconnection between our everyday and online identities, as well as the power of the individual versus the collective.
The work of Johannesburg-based Valentine (b. 1990) has its roots in naturalistic portraiture, honed by years spent as an illustrator for commercial industries. Inspired by old and contemporary Masters alike, from Velasquez and Sargent to James Jean and Phil Hale, Valentine uses the internet to find inspiration and to connect to his audience and other artists. His combination of realistic brushwork and graphic abstract marks gives each piece a surreal and dreamy quality; a dream only partially remembered.