We are very pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Antony Valerian in our gallery in Vienna. The exhibition is called „Diamond Dick“ and shows fifteen new, mostly large size canvases. They achieve their effect with a mix of melancholy, gentleness and brachial violence.
The jump of a wave, a refreshing moment. Are there dolphins dancing? Seagulls? I imagine holidays at the sea, the euphoria under the sun. But look, there is something rising above in the middle of bubbly water. It is a small ironclad perturbation. Maybe it is a telescope of a submarine, or a weapon.
The paintings of Antony Valerian are nearly always large sizes. They illuminate walls, often a whole room. The artwork described above is called "Sniper"; the title itself underlines the felt irritation. And so does "Airplane" - it drags me into a poetic irritation: I am looking through an oversized window section of an airplane. Behind it there is the endless sea waiting under the sky that is black as night.
In the classical sense, Valerian is a serious artist, you could almost call him a conservative painter. He isn’t a posturer, as there are so many of them in the actual international art market, especially struggling to quote preferably in a fancy way the various fashion trends of the pop culture. He takes all the time he needs. He has decided that an artist’s life is a marathon and not a hundred meter run. He processes on irritations, composes around or over them. He tries to make mistakes, he says, in order to resolve them. These processes of solution-oriented approaches concern aberrations on the surface texture, the disproportional space arrangements or the irritating colour compositions. People or buildings are protruding laterally the canvas. Scale jumps lead to a new perspective – for example a boxing ring, whose dimensions blast the format of the tableau, therein the hero of the evening, small and lonely, flittingly between resignation and fame.
Valerian, the author of that boxer, considering the consequence of his work up to now, is still incredibly young. He originates from Hamburg. In the landscapes of his paintings both the sparse heath and the rough North Sea coast are reflected.
He says that he has set his high goals early and that this was the reason for being always a bad pupil. Later on, he used to live on the streets for a while, before going to Vienna in order to apply at the Academy of Fine Arts for a class under the direction of Daniel Richter. It worked out. Back then he was twenty years old, the youngest student in his class.
Richter has taught him the courage to self-criticism, he declares, and continues that you must never rest, but you always have to question yourself. What does the painting demand of you? Today this question motivates him more than everything else.
But Valerian, in contrary to Richter, isn’t a political painter. I have to elicit such sentences from him indirectly (in a roundabout way), the „Laberflash“ is something for other people. He prefers to remain silent and to paint, often on four large size canvases at the same time, up to twenty hours a day. Each of his paintings, he says, links with the latest one.
The artist as a workaholic surrounding himself. This lifestyle is well known. But Valerian isn’t one of these driven creatures. There’s no rush, he has decided for himself. The work has to develop, he says, and therefore you need time. You reach for New York, but not for St. Pölten only. When he was a little boy he had to count everything: stones, windows, street lights. He has heard a rhythmic ticking everywhere. He has thought in a maniac way how the world was running. Painting became his salvation. To apply the paintbrush, he says, is far away from mathematics. Finally, there are no more rasters or numbers.
Each painting passes on beyond his canvas. That’s his firm conviction. His works show spaces, therein human beings, sometimes even a horse or little flamingos. But first of all they show a greater context, a superordinate structure of space and time. The small insignificant things – everything, that only matters in the here and now – will be washed away in various colour layers by fictive waves, rain showers or air phenomena.
But there are not only those monumental, nearly biblical works. There are also paintings as „A Walk“, telling a profound and tender story, as a text by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Painted stories produce with seemingly little effort a moon and stars, enabling the spectator to participate in a long and great night.
Antony Valerian’s paintings aren’t though buildings. They are soliloquies of the soul. They are reports of becoming and passing away of the world.
Me, the writer, I’m seeing into a sea of interlacing colours, the light touch of his brushstroke is contagious for me. And each of his paintings reminds me, that everything is connected to everything.