A graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, Valentine has roots in the 1970s Chicago Imagist scene that included Jim Nutt and Roger Brown, swaggeringly shameless picture painters who famously embraced human flaws and misadventure when the rest of the artworld had turned toward a more austere Minimalist sensibility. In his new work, Valentine paints figures, landscapes, and abstracts with gusto, exploring memory, trauma, and existential angst while employing outrageous humor and image quotation to skirt his own admitted sentimentality.
For Valentine, every painting has distinct personal and social components. In Grieving Father, for instance, he seems to deprecate both his own alarm over malevolence and mortality and the inability of contemporary painters to address the larger issues facing humanity. Yet he still feels compelled to record his emotional life, though with a kind of wry modesty, perhaps because he understands that paintings are no longer necessary to convey horrors or record significant experiences.
Despite Valentine’s emphasis on image, the surfaces are lumpy and tactile. In contrast to so much work being produced today, Valentine often spends years on a painting before it leaves the studio. (Image above: Fred Valentine, Lifesize)
This superb show is small, but the content is meaty and quietly impassioned, offering penetrating ideas and perspectives, particularly about the diminished role that emotion and sentimentality play in contemporary painting. Thanks, Fred.
“Fred Valentine,” Sometimes (works of art), Lower East Side, New York, NY. Extended through July 19, 2013. Open Wednesdays, Fridays and by appointment. The gallery doesn’t have a website, so for more info, call (212) 431-2652 or (646) 714-7470. Email: email@example.com