Mapping the Evolution of Ed Valentine’s Formula-Driven Paintings in “gatherEd”
The act of painting has been a fertile area of investigation for Ed Valentine. The conclusions he draws tend to be rooted in construction and process. “gatherEd,” the artist’s second solo show at Angela Meleca Gallery in Ohio, highlights the evolution of his increasingly objective style of painting.
In studying art history and, in particular, the history of painting, Valentine identified the individual, intertwined elements that form a completed artwork: color, lines, marks, patterns, composition, and form. From there, he begins his paintings on a formula-driven level, with an artistic mantra serving as a foundation for his process: “Four to Six Elements in Visual and Conceptual Harmony.” (The mantra hangs above his studio door.) Selecting elements that pair well, he paints compositions that are sparse yet adherent to the “four to six elements” refrain, with individual pieces contributing to the larger whole. The aim, he has said, is to not convolute the finished work.
Though grounded in historical precedent, the artworks rely heavily on a purely aesthetic allure. “Clarification just seems to deflate the work,” Valentine has said. As such, he gives neutral titles to his work: e.g., Still Life with Cartoon Rabbit and Orange Drip (2016) or Untitled Spray Portrait with Six Color Drips, Rip, and a BB Hole (2008).
Valentine’s older works, such as Still Life With Green Painted Bird (1996–97), are more painterly and abstract. Taken together, the artworks on display trace Valentine’s artistic trajectory and the refinement of his practice, one rooted in the gathering, collecting, and composing of individual elements. Yet gathering is only part of Valentine’s process; creating a unique, visual harmony is the second, arguably more important aspect. Integration is key.