The Skin of the Sea
“The Skin of the Sea” is an exhibition that deciphers time. Artist Manuel Valencia expresses the latitude of time and its strength by means of painting, which meanwhile narrates an appeal of human nature, id est the immanent belongingness. On top of the volatile ocean horizon, the artist is in quest of a sort of conquer and eternity.
The skin of the sea: to respond to all living creatures in the secular world with the versatility of the sea. With regard to human consciousness, it refers to “thinking”, namely the reflection of human consciousness on things, as well as the facsimile of a certain extent.
In the work over the last seven years, Valencia has stretched his perspective and then retarded. Through the corner of Mallorca embedded in the ocean outside his window, he has seen the boundless freedom and creativity in his heart. One series of work in the exhibition is comprised of thirty-four pictures from the same angle, and the unified composition seems to be following some kind of regular pattern; taking a closer look, some absolute discrepancy therein may be visible. Made of complicated and diverse materials, they demonstrate widely different artistic styles and an emotive cultural contrast inherent in the artist alike. The thirty-four pieces seems to present thirty-four varied artistic expressions by thirty-four varied artists. From Minimalism to Abstract Expressionism, collage to graffiti, Impressionist landscape to freehand ink wash, Valencia experiments on all the possibilities, but the one and only changeless is his distinctive aura that is symbolic of him; therefore he transforms the ocean horizon into a mirror whereon human hearts are shown. He has condensed his continual work of the last seven years into the presentation of this moment. When confronted with his works, the viewers see a supreme unity of time and space.
What we see in Valencia’s works is not merely a serene ocean horizon but also a revelation of a myriad of thoughts. The morning and evening tides of the sea resemble the emotions of human beings. Every breath that one takes extends the life a little, and what happens within the time of each breath may change the situation at large, which is delicate, frail, yet grand and worthy of expectation. Perhaps this is why the abstract concept of time enthralls us—we cannot take control of it but must adhere completely to it. Valencia unifies time within the observation of this second, freeze-framing it, and submerges the viewers as well as himself in meditation. The stilled power is hence transformed into an opportunity to inspect inward and ponder on the internal. Such process differs from the scientific experiments that repeat hundreds of times to achieve serendipity once; as an artist, he is dedicated to depicting the ever-changing seascape out of the peaceful and perpetual instant, with spiritual creativity yet without an aim. Every scene is static, and meanwhile flowing. Maybe it is the tranquility of the ocean horizon that the majorities see, but Valencia has attained the infinite belongingness from the depths of his heart.
This exhibition narrates a story of competing with time. The intricate world and the demanding diplomatic schedule have not deprived Valencia of his inner liberty. He transforms the act of painting into a process of introspection. These paintings are a portrayal of his heart. Visual experiences can be ephemeral, but the latitude of memory and cogitation appears wider and longer. Today, we need such kind of spirit; by virtue of the passion for painting, making the act of painting an emblem of vitality, Valencia has become an ambassador to the future, holding a torch lit by the fire of art that shines glory in the never-ending path of creativity.
By Shi Li-Sanderson
Beijing, March 2015