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Ed Valentine solo show opens at Envoy Enterprises
Marker Portrait with Green Eye, 1997; mixed media on canvas; 40 x 30 inches. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and envoy enterprises.

NEW YORK, NY.- Ed Valentine combines drawing and painting into an artistic form that is more than the sum of its parts.

The artist’s work is simple and sparse, containing solely the figures and abstract geometry he finds necessary to convey his imagination.

Bold and colorful portrait paintings, employing his personal visual language, alternate with near-abstract compositions.

A mature artist with a unique style and an indisputably independent mentality, Valentine is confident in what he is doing. He by no means conforms to any norm or standard, but instead paints with less concern about how his work abstains from fitting into art.

In some of the paintings in the exhibition, he expands pictorial space across canvas fields, using a linear narration to turn accidental or fortuitous motifs into calligraphic signs. In contrast to the almost chaotic tone of the lines, the geometric shapes in the painting feel firm and solid, each holding their own place in the composition. Mostly at the bottom of the work, they are either vaguely recognizable or disturbingly impossible to identify. Placed upon a monochrome background, they separate the representational from the abstraction. What, at first glance, appears to be a formal, abstract composition, becomes destabilized in its depicted content by the presence of a representational element in the form of an eye.

As part of the ongoing quest into figuration and abstraction, the eye is painted upon a neutral background and surrounded by lines that appear to arise from nowhere, adding a hallucinogenic quality to the work. His skeletal depictions are not ghosts of the objects they represent but in fact the exact opposite. They are the things themselves, with the ghosts of physical objectivity removed to reveal a deeper, clearer being.

In Untitled Portrait with Red Orange Painted Lips and Drip, Valentine paints a canvas filled by the color purple, interrupted only by the portrait of a woman rising out of a polka dot filled shape. Liberating color from the restrictions of contours, the actual portrait consists of juxtaposed and overlaid large and small blocks of color, a spectrum of shades and tones, painted in a symphony of brushstrokes that expose the care and precision taken to craft the perfect balance. Placed in solid relation to the background, they almost appear to be cut from different portraits. Masses of color embodying the simplest compositional schemes, symbolic extracts of forms, a complete ideography made credible only through the artist’s powerful gift of poetic suggestion.

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