A retrospective of the life work of painter, draughtsman, and sculptor Julio Rosado del Valle (1922-2008) has been an important highlight this year at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico [Puerto Rico Museum of Art]. It opened on January 1 and will end on June 21, 2009.
In the 40s, when Rosado del Valle began to paint, his concerns centered on social issues. The artist explored the economic differences that kept the working class in poverty. In this early work, he paid homage to workers, cane cutters, washerwomen, street vendors, and newspaper hawkers. In 1954, he was appointed as artist in residence at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras (until 1982), which allowed him to develop an increasingly free style. His work moved towards a lyrical expressionist mode, taking on a more geometrical language.
Throughout the decades, Rosado del Valle always showed a passion for showing the essence of his surroundings. In the 50s, he worked in portraiture and still-life. In 1952, he won a gold medal for mural painting in New York, sponsored by the Architectural league of New York and, in 1957, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Rosado del Valle adopted as his philosophy to observe his immediate surroundings as a starting point for metaphors of the universe. A constant theme of his was to express as much as possible while working from the simplest and most basic of objects. The influence of abstract expressionism became evident in his work but was nonetheless “nuanced by the Caribbean cauldron.” The concrete acquires a truly plastic dimension in the 60s; his work was abstract but always based on a concrete model. The 70s for Rosado del Valle were characterized by his large format works. In the 80s and 90s, the artist returned to quotidian subjects, existential issues of helplessness, and loss of meaning. His attention turned to the exploration of identity through image surfaces and self-portraits, still calling attention to the human condition.
After a fire 2000 destroyed a great number of his works, his production suffered a short hiatus. Then, in 2002, he started to paint a paradisiacal vision populated by giraffes, flowers, plants, and exotic birds, crowning pieces of a career that radiate the sense of a vital will. This is the pictorial treasure where the concrete is constituted by the colors, lines, text, and forms of a unique world—the world of Julio Rosado del Valle, which as now become ours through the artist offering to the universe. [Post based on essay by Ruben Alejandro Moreira, Guest Curator of the MAPR.]
For more information, see http://www.mapr.org/Exhibiciones.aspx?view=3&NodeID=9560
Rosado del Valle’s “La silla” [The Chair] from www.pamil.com/…/julio-rosado-del-valle/234/