Arguably the first aspect of Sergio Valenzuela’s work that strikes the viewer is his choice of palette. The selection of deep reds, running rich between the contrast of whites and blacks, resonates like a minor chord played deep in the psychic register. It is a color scheme that roots us in our corporal, visceral substance, and by so doing faces us, not so much with what we like to think of as our humanity, but with our humanness — our temporality, our carnality. And, yet, Valenz’s paintings are at the same time cerebral dreamscapes that explore the artist’s own inner world, while making an unrelenting request that we journey inside, as well.

Within the borders of the work, Valenz introduces repeated and yet discordant themes that ride within the colors. He chooses familiar, angular, mechanical objects: chairs, stages, tables, abodes — all of which remain steadfastly empty, as if you’ve come upon the scene too late and all that is left is the tableau and a lingering question.

The only human representation in the paintings are faceless figures, each in some sense of unbalance. Perched upon their wheels or posed inexplicably on a summit, they are the mute chorus of the images, players that wish to explain what has happened, what will happen again — and yet they remain unable to connect with one another or the viewer. They appear somehow in mid-aria without a voice.

From his brush, Valenz’s brings one last recurrent form: the ladder — suggesting at a chance of transcendence or at least a practicable hope of escape.

Valenz is not easy. He is challenging and ruminative. And taken as a whole, his paintings — mechanical forms imprinted, as they are, within the mind and muscle of the human animal — define the edges of a struggle to understand self.

To see more of Sergio Valenzuela’s work, please visit La Antigua Galería del Arte, located at 4a Calle Oriente, #15 or visit their website at Mr. Valenzuela lives and works in Guatemala.

  1. You mean “palette,” not “palate.” The one means literally what painters mix their paints on, metaphorically the range of colors favored in a painter’s style; “palate” is the roof of your mouth and metaphorically your taste.

  2. Oh, yes, indeed I do! Thanks for the close read. Though, presumably, in this case, the artist’s palate and the artist’s palette include some color crossover. Cheers!

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About the Author

Michael Tallon, Editor-in-Chief, head writer and delivery boy, of La Cuadra Magazine, expatriated from the States 11 years ago. After spending a year in Antigua gasbagging about wanting to start an English Language magazine, he hit the road and wandered about South America, India and Nepal before finding himself sipping tea in Darjeeling and realizing that maybe it was time to head home and pick up the career path. That ill-fated adventure in New York lasted about 6 weeks before he headed back to Antigua, Guatemala, where John Rexer had actually started the magazine in his absence.

After a few months, Mike took over the magazine and has been going slowly broke since. On that note, Mike would like to invite advertisers, readers and potential patrons to send him free money.