Rachel Valdés bets on watercolor for its “eroticism”

The Cuban artist Rachel Valdés Camejo, famous for her large installations in which she seeks optical illusion through mirrors, presents “Piscinas” in Madrid, an exhibition in which watercolor prevails, “a technique that has a lot of sensuality and eroticism.”

Rachel Valdés (Havana, 1990) is a renowned plastic artist and her works have revolutionized various corners of the world such as Times Square in New York, the lakes of Utah (USA) or the squares of Havana.

Now, with the exhibition that opens this Thursday at the La Cometa gallery in Madrid, he proposes a trip to his hometown, to a sports venue in the 1990s. “Empty pools, without water, that inhabited the landscape of Havana and where I used to go swimming,” he recounted in an interview with EFE.

All his work is impregnated with Cuba: «It is part of me, my culture, my idiosyncrasy and I try to take it everywhere; Sometimes I miss that Havana that one day was and is not today. My roots give me a lot of strength », she says.

For the first time in the Spanish capital, the artist exhibits an individual show, which includes twenty pieces: from watercolors to photographs, including digital drawings accompanied by a sound installation “that reproduces the sound of the last downpour I heard in Havana.”

“They are pieces that invite retrospection, silence, contemplation, dialogue over time,” says Valdés, whose work caught the attention of the director of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

«I usually work with cubes and rectangles and, in this case, I represent many of these pieces as inverted pyramids, as geometric elements; I see them as a kind of monument to oblivion, like temples, they are archaeological landscapes », he explains.

He considers himself a perfectionist when he works in sculpture, with painting he is “more visceral”, he tries to let himself go “and let the piece itself take its path”.

In this exhibition in Madrid, the blue color prevails, “a mystical tone that is everywhere,” says Valdés, who says that he has a notebook on the nightstand: “Before I sleep, ideas come to me, sometimes I write them down, in instead of making a sketch and the next morning he materialized them in the studio».

He works with different manifestations.»I choose the one that I consider most suggestive based on the idea that I am going to develop. Watercolor is the most difficult technique for me, but I really enjoy it, I love the subtlety it offers, it has a lot of sensuality and eroticism », he explains.

“I am attracted to the idea that the viewer enters my world, I like to share experiences with him,” adds the artist, who likes to leave an open path for “perception and interpretation.”

Cuban artist Rachel Valdés observes works from her exhibition “Piscinas” at La Cometa gallery in Madrid. Photo: Alejandro López / EFE.

Rachel Valdés, who has among her artistic references “Malévich’s minimalism”, has exhibited several times at ARCO, the contemporary art fair in Madrid, as well as creating public art projects and participating in the Havana Biennial in 2012. 2015 and 2019.

The last work created for this Biennial, “Immersion”, was acquired and permanently installed as cultural heritage of the city.

Valdés is also known for dating Spanish singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz. «We each have a creative process and it is important to respect that space. Music and painting are two different worlds, I take it individually, I try not to mix anything », she explains.

Her passion for painting began as a child. “I was more entertained watching Renaissance paintings or Picasso’s work with my grandfather than cartoons,” reveals this Cuban who remembers that her grandfather was the first to give her colored pencils and sheets to paint.

He won his first painting competition at just seven years old, “a portrait of Fidel Castro in the Plaza de la Revolución.”

Graduated in Painting from the National Academy of Fine Arts in Havana, she settled in the Spanish city of Barcelona at the age of 20, after receiving a scholarship to continue studying.

«Spain is my second home, I love this country, I love its culture, its music, history, architecture, flamenco, its people, its flavors; It is a fantastic mix”, says the artist.

After this exhibition, which will be open until mid-June, he will exhibit his work at Art Basel Miami, in the United States.

Carmen Martin / EFE

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