Contemporary painting has neither date of birth nor definition. This carries with it a flexibility that has allowed an abundant diversity of pieces to coincide in multiple exhibitions, events, publications, television programs, biennials, art fairs, catalogs, websites and other such venues. A diversity that grows like unchecked weed, whilst the only relation that the works keep to each other is that they had been painted recently and all of them enunciate “painting” as a value. Moreover, the similarity between the authors is discontinuous and frequently toxic.
In this scenario, the art market is the only surviving value system. Art criticism, the museum, the cultural apparatus and the academic nomenklatura alike have an increasing attraction (if not fascination) by the supply/demand dichotomy. Emerging artworks become news for the price they achieve in an auction (and not for its aesthetic qualities). Once one accepts that museum, criticism and academy have all yielded their authority to the market as the leading figure of culture, it is not surprising that contemporary painting is essentially acephalous.
In spite of these unfavorable circumstances for pictorial thought, the work presented by Valentina Olmedo in the “Polymorphisms” exhibition is a structured and bold reading, in which abstraction finds its agenda for this century.
The first abstraction in the history of painting, the one involving the early avant-gardes, was a synthetic process: the abbreviation of a visual reality external to the painting. A second, stylistic abstraction recognized as unique reality the pictorial attributes organized in a specific way. And the third abstraction, in which Valentina Olmedo is involved, is the problematic: it establishes a composition relating various styles and pictorial problems.
It is in this body of work that geometric abstraction converges with organic abstraction, and hence a composition in planes, with aggressive insertions of triangles, circles and ovals creating ripples that make a reference to the aquatic and, last but not least, a line that works as a frame that allows one to be introduced into the center of the composition. All this builds into an irregular format where it is not clear if the format travels from the center towards the limits or if the limits impose themselves to the center. For its part, the contrasting and bright palette changes from a tonal to lean. And the colored planes can be support of another chromatic sequence thanks to the colored dots. It is a space built of spaces to become in shape. For the same reason it is a body of heterodox work that seeks to give systematization and structure to the diverse. A painting that has achieved by the fragment and contrast a space of organized confluences.
The genealogy of the painting of Valentina Olmedo is found in the little-warned painting of the 90’s whose most outstanding authors are Jonathan Lasker, Juan Uslé and Luis Gordillo, among others. We can also see in her paintings the echoes of the work of Roy Lichteinstein, Valerio Adami and David Hockney. Simultaneous to the painting of Olmedo we can find authors with a similar line of work as Trudy Benson, Erin Mcsavaney, Joanne Greenbaum and Anselm Reyle. More to the point, it would be impossible to explain Olmedo’s painting without the work of Frank Stella as the platform that would give her the starting point for this work and with which she would manage to develop more clearly what our painter had started in her second Individual exhibition “Geometric landscapes,” exhibited in 2012 at the Juan Rulfo Cultural Center in Mexico City.
Her training as an architect allowed Valentina Olmedo to find ‘structure’ as the key concept for developing this project. On the other hand, teaching has lead her to a critical and updated thinking, inducing a permanent questioning in her works. The latter has implied a back and forth movement between figuration and abstraction, a transit that should not be in any way surprising, since orthodoxy is not within her intentions.
The organized flexibility that allows Olmedo to structure the diverse is far from the postmodern fragmentation that sought eclecticism in a failed system of images where the adulteration of classical painting and modern painting with the faux quaint and mass media had no pictorial-historical dimension being encapsulated as period painting in the absence of an structured visual thought.
Ulises García Ponce de León
Mexico City. August, 2016.
Valentina Olmedo studied Architecture at the Mexican School of Architecture and Design of La Salle University (Mexico City. 1992-1998) and Fine Arts at The National School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking, “La Esmeralda” (Mexico City. 2000-2005).
Her work is focused on painting and drawing, disciplines in which she deals with architectural subjects ranging from abstraction to landscape.
Valentina Olmedo is professor of drawing at the National School of Painting Sculpture and Printmaking “La Esmeralda” since 2005. Ms. Olmedo was responsible for the Academic Activities of Mexico City’s Museum of Modern Art during 2014.
2016 Polymorphisms, Fundación Sebastián, Mexico City
2012 Geometric Landscapes, Juan Rulfo Cultural Center, Mexico City
2010 Abstract-Concrete, Fundación Sebastián, Mexico City
2008 Urban Topography II, Magnolia Gallery, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
2005 Urban Topography I, La Salle University, Mexico City
2017 1st National Biennial of Landscape Luis Nishizawa, Studio-Museum Luis Nishizawa, Toluca
2016 The Nature of El Bosco over 500 years after his death, Fundación Sebastián, Mexico City
2016 Miradas. 7th National Visual Arts Biennial, Tijuana Cultural Center, Tijuana, Baja California
2016 The Soledad Collection, Manuel Felguérez Museum of Abstract Art and The Ancient Temple of San Agustín, Zacatecas, Zacatecas
2016 Contemporary Painting, Urban Gallery, Mexico City
2016 Our Sourroundings, Intero, Houston, Texas
2014 Details of fragments. El Greco over 400 years after his death, Fundación Sebastián. Mexico City
2013 IP-3, Collective Exhibition, Zona Arte Gallery, Toluca
2013 Edvard Munch. 150 years old. A tribute by Mexican artists, La Indianilla Cultural Center, Mexico City
2013 La Esmeralda: Now in small format, National Center of Arts Alternative Gallery (CENART), Mexico City
2012 Shamal, a creative wind, Lissone, Italy
Pictorial Index, 74-89, Fundación Sebastián, Mexico City
Contemporary Graphic 2012, Fundación Sebastián, Mexico City
Gestures and Other Lines, Fundación Sebastián, Mexico City
2011 Pintura y Punto. 23 emerging painters, Fundación Sebastián, Mexico City
2009 Alfredo Zalce. 7th National Painting and Printmaking Biennial, Morelia, Michoacán
4th National Visual Arts Biennial Yucatán 2009, Mérida, Yucatán
2006 Proyecto Distrito14, Colección 14, Monterrey, Nuevo León
The lyre and the brush, National School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking
2005 La Esmeralda, National Center of Arts (CENART), Mexico City
2004 9th National Drawing an Engraving Biennial Diego Rivera, Guanajuato, México
2002 11th National Encounter of Young Art, Aguascalientes, México