Valerie Brathwaite: Works on Paper presents drawings by the Trinidad and Tobago–born artist that transformed the history of Venezuelan art. Curated by Macarena Deij Prado, this exhibition is part of the [On View: Curatorial Studies] series and will be held at the Gary R. Libby Focus Gallery between September 21 and November 18, 2023. The exhibition is part of the ISLAA Artist Seminar Initiative supported by the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) in collaboration with the University Galleries and the School of Art and Art History. ISLAA’s Artist Seminar Initiative supports academic institutions in fostering intimate exchanges between students and living artists from Latin America. The parallel exhibition Vital and Veiled: Valerie Brathwaite and José Gabriel Fernández will be on view at the Gary R. Libby University Gallery from October 27, 2023 to January 26, 2024.
The exhibition showcases a selection of Brathwaite's drawings that highlight her unique approach to organic abstraction. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the artist's profound connection to the environment and her ability to capture the essence of nature through her drawings. Born in 1938, Valerie Brathwaite is primarily known as a sculptor. However, her drawings are equally impressive and embody a radical commitment to the energy and infinite possibilities of free form and unrestrained volume.
Inspired by fellow immigrant artist Gego (Gertrude Goldschmidt), who was a central figure of modernist abstraction in the country, Brathwaite moved to Venezuela in 1969, where she has lived and developed her career since. Most of the drawings included in this exhibition were created in the 1970s, a prolific decade that would mark a pivotal moment in Brathwaite’s career and in the history of art in Venezuela. This was the time when she explored living matters in a variety of media and materials in her characteristic organic abstraction style, consolidating her career. Her works on paper are a testament to her ability to capture the essence of nature and translate it into a visual language that is both captivating and thought-provoking.
Drawing from her background as a sculptor, her drawings also incorporate a sense of tactile materiality to create texture and depth, adding a sculptural quality to her two-dimensional works. Unlike her sculptural works, however, Brathwaite’s drawings offer a different visual experience, allowing her to experiment uniquely with composition, coexisting planes, lines, texture, and color. To this date, the artist's keen eye for detail and her fascination with the intricate growth patterns of plants and the textures of the landscape has driven her to experiment on a smaller scale with new materials such as fabric and porcelain. Valerie Brathwaite: Works on Paper is an opportunity to connect with drawings where lines and forms coexist in a continuous state of metamorphosis and infinite exploration of the picture plane.
Additional support for the exhibition was provided by Henrique Faria and Anilu Gómez. This exhibition is part of the series [On View: Curatorial Studies], which features art exhibitions curated by School of the Art and Art History students.
Opening reception: September 21, 2023, 5-7 PM.
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