Humane Images

Valbuena in the Museum of Modern Art By Clemencia Arango

El Tiempo, Bogota, October 1987

Solitary men, nuns, old ladies, wounded figures with bandages, horses and riders full of vitality, figures charged with emotions. These are some of the themes from the paintings and drawings by Ricardo Valbuena who’s one man show with 27 new works opens in the Museum of Modern Art in Bogota.

For the last five years he lives in London, at 27 he’s managed to be appreciated as an artist in this city and live of his work.He was invited to do this exhibition after his participation in "Colombian Art in the World, New Figures" that took place in the MOMA in 1985.When living in Bogota he wanted to study medicine, was admitted into the National University but very soon opted out. He was interested in the human figure and drawing.

He begun architectural studies in the University of Los Andes and perfected the discipline of drawing in David Manzur’s studio. He drew anthropomorphic figures, mixture of man and animal, of demons and angels.When he saw Picasso’s Retrospective in New York in 1981 he made a final decision: he would dedicate himself fully to painting.He soon left for England to immerse himself in the world of painting. There his interest in the human figure consolidated. Where do these impacting images come from? He spent hours in the London Underground studying and sketching people. "It’s like having many models that give hundreds of possibilities for doing works that reflect the modern world.

Lots of people in a closed environment who don’t communicate with each other, this says a lot about solitude and urban isolation." He tends to represent one figure alone, though some other works are more complex. Other expressions came from the news or the press." The power of the image is what determines my interest in it ". The series on the horses came from here. He was interested in the physical power of the animal and riders: the beauty of the beast and the struggle to capture movement in painting.His colors are dark and somber, gray.

Maybe because he has lived in cities like this: London, Bilbao, Bogota. And because he is fascinated by the atmospheres of Rembrandt and Velasquez, "Velasquez’s gray palette is fantastic".He defines his style as a sort of figurative expressionism. In the beginning he was influenced by Bacon, now, the artists he studies the most are Goya, Rembrandt and Velasquez.Have you won a prize? The best prize has been to be able to exhibit my work and continue to paint full time.