Turning twenty-five is a milestone; it is more or less a quarter of the brief period of time that constitutes a human life. At twenty-five there is still youth and there is also a travelled path; there are lessons to come and many others already learned through experience; there is hopeful anticipation for the future and also enough distance to reflect on the past: there is simultaneously maturity and space for growth. Stability and change, tenderness and strength, coexist in twenty-five. Twenty-five are not yet gold but they are already colored in silver.
Juan Carlos del Valle has been painting for twenty-five years, that is, he has lived more time with painting than without it. And he has devoted himself to it with deep conviction and an iron will, with discipline and delight and with a perseverance that borders on stubbornness, even obsession. Juan Carlos is a playful and mystical artist, curious and irreverent who resists formulas, extreme intellectualization, labels, impositions and trends. He works for painting and from painting, he thinks in terms of light, composition and materiality and has not lost his sense of wonder at the expressive possibilities of the pictorial medium, its mysteries and limitations, even in spite of a contemporaneity that has declared dead that which throbs with life in his hands.
The story of Juan Carlos del Valle is inextricably linked to that of his painting, and it is a love story; not an ephemeral and capricious infatuation, but the kind of lasting, generous and conscious love that tirelessly surrenders to the quest of the good, the beautiful and the true. The story of Juan Carlos and his painting can only be told jointly, since his painting has grown with him and he in turn with it.
From the academic rigor of the tenacious student, through a versatile range of formal, existential and plastic explorations, up to the present in which the pictorial language seems to be stripping away of all figurative referents, what can be elucidated from a body of work of more than eight hundred paintings and several hundred sketches and drawings?
In 5x5 I have not attempted to make a retrospective show or an exhaustive chronology of Juan Carlos del Valle’s work, but rather to draw a conducting thread composed of five themes that present themselves with five works each (some of them being shown to the public for the first time), thus adding twenty-five pieces in total as a celebratory wink. These themes allude to fundamental questions that have persisted throughout the work of Juan Carlos: Desire and Fear, It's Just a Trick: the Real and the Deceptive, One, Alchemy and Back To the Origin.
If 2020 has been in so many ways a year of turmoil, uncertainties, crisis and disruption, this is also why this year is particularly adequate for celebrating permanence and that which is worth aspiring to, such as freedom, love and good painting.