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Valbuena Journeys to the Light

by Ignacio Zuleta Lleras

Gallery Alfred Wild, Bogota 1992

There are in "The Secret of the Golden Flower" some very old esoteric guide lines to initiate the circular movements of light. In this Chinese book they talk, off course, of the inner light which would be Valbuena’s case if his paintings didn’t also reflect the external light.

In fact, Ricardo Valbuena, who only recently painted obscure urban underground characters, prisoners of catacombs and wounded figures, today in his canvases captures luminous landscapes, and transparent and shimmering bodies and flowers. The rapture with Turner’s incandescent light is evident in this new period of Valbuena’s paintings.

There is an obvious change. Swinging on the pendulum he traverses the abyss and has moved from the shadowy coast to a delightful clarity. He has discovered among other treasures he doesn’t reveal, nothing less than the sun’s light. The light now circulates from the celestial body to his soul and from his soul to the canvas in a magic circle that would be perfect if the process wasn’t precisely a constant search rather than a final attainment.

The palette he now uses in this recently painted pieces dares with colors that he previously wouldn’t have dreamt of, like the yellow of the skies imagined by the artist in the silence of his country retreat. And the greens and lilacs, and the previously scarce titanium white illuminate with a ubiquitous almost mystical source, the contours of this new world.

The dark figures that inhabited his paintings in the past have been transmuted into flowers, dancing plants and trees that rise in ascending verticals. The previous passionate, impulsive and at times negligent brush stroke has given way to the fine weaving of a small brush and the corresponding calm and reflexive discipline.

The drawings of this artist don’t register the foreshortened torments anymore. They have become gentle, clear, less bound by gravity, both that of the earth and of concepts. Again the human figure is present transfigured by the circular motions of the inner light and in his lines one can glimpse the desire to make them as light as the breath of an essential and humble prayer. Now, Valbuena, in his paintings and drawings journeys irrevocably to the light.

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