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The Island and the Continent

Work by Julio Valdez

July 24, 2003 – August 29, 2003

AMA | OAS Gallery
OAS Main Building
17th Street, NW (Corner of Constitution Ave.)
Washington, DC 20006

There is something immediately striking in Julio Valdez’s portraits. For one thing, he does not use portraiture as a means by which to render a likeness. Similarly, he does not consider “identity” based primarily on nationality, race, or other circumstantial or external factors. Valdez has said that the concept of the “likeness” is limiting. Rather than that, his portraits are more of a “spiritual and emotional x-ray,” as he says, and identity stems from the internal and is projected outwards, instead of being determined by worldly variables. And so he renders paintings with thought given to the relationship between the inside and the outside, citing all along that the genetic make-up of any human being is 99% the same as that of any other human being, or any other animal for that matter, which raises the question of what it is that sets humans apart from other animals - he suggests that it is perhaps free-will and the ability to reason.

The fact his work does not portray its subjects in their physical likeness opens up possibilities for him to get more involved with his subjects on an emotional or spiritual level.