THE ALCHEMIST

APRIL 17, 2014

by E.S Jones

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He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19 v 40
Born in 1956 in Santiago de Chile, Palolo Valdés is one of the most remarkable artists living in South America today. Using Fred Jarvis’ house to set up his first workshop in 1975, he moved five years later to New York where he made more than 60 sculptures, paintings, drawings and silk-screen printings. In experimenting with different kinds of metals and stones he discovered a unique way to mix stones and clay with melted metal. Valdés was the first known sculptor in the world to make use of these multiple materials successfully.
Bovines and equines, the sculptures have a pure animalistic energy about them. As if they were formed in the kiln of the earth’s core, these are volcanic beasts whose stony exteriors can barely contain their fiery spirit. Like cave paintings given three dimensions, there is a prehistoric magic to their fractured forms, a pleasing irregularity to their bronze bones and perfect hooves.
The artist is an alchemist, transforming earth into treasures. The smaller pieces in particular feel like ancient findings, to be held with a sense of reverence. Around the humble beginnings of plain old river rocks, Valdés brings about an artful metamorphosis with molten metal exoskeletons. Wild-eyed stallions and bulls are drawn out with humour and compassion. Electrically charged, they paw the ground and snort angrily, finished off with elegant oil puddle patinations or rusty ochres.

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