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 Velázquez and Sargent to James Jean and Phil Hale, Valentine typically uses the vast scape of the internet to find inspiration and to connect to his audience and other artists.
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For the works in this series, however, Valentine ventured through his native city and surroundings to capture aspects of their decay, which he translates through energetic brush strokes and marks scratched into the surface of the paintings. Emphasised by the monochromatic palette, the one lone figure found in the cityscapes seems to disappear into his surroundings, reflecting the effect our environment has on us. This dissolution is also seen in the portraits making up the series, whose faces de-solidify into smoke – the entropic decay of identity.
Valentine’s combination of realistic alla prima brushwork and graphic abstract marks gives each piece a surreal and dreamy quality; a dream only partially remembered.
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