Paula Valenzuela

Chilean Painter & Installation Artist

01.05.2020   - 31.08.2020

Paula Valenzuela Antúnez (b. May 2nd 1988) is an abstract painter from Santiago de Chile. After spending three years in Buenos Aires, she currently lives and works in Viña del Mar (Valparaíso region), Chile. She is interested in how painting can be used as a way to depict and interact with the landscape. For her, painting is one of the ways that humans can have a relationship with nature. “In relation to the landscape and hand in hand with it,” she says, “I am always investigating materials that generate a dialogue with nature and with questions that are often more existential and that I myself cannot answer, but I am attracted by that mysterious relationship between spaces, how we see them, how we configure them and how we observe them.”

Chilean artist Paula Valenzuela sitting in front of one of her paintings.
Paula Valenzuela in her atelier, Viña del Mar, Chile, 2020. Photo courtesy the artist.

In addition to her interest in visual art, Valenzuela also works in film. She has been working for eight years with an audiovisual production company on the documentary film festival Docs Barcelona Valparaiso. She says that documentary cinema has inspired her artistically, particularly exploring “the thousands of ways that exist to talk about certain topics.” Additionally, being able to work with other people on their projects has exposed Valenzuela to creatives from many disciplines, including directors, screenwriters, editors, photographers, and others. Through these encounters, she has gained inspiration and ideas for her own visual works.

Her most recent pieces have been large-scale abstract paintings, featuring bold, swirled waves of colors and amorphous shapes. These abstract visual representations of the mind and the human condition follow the tradition of abstract expressionism, such as the “messy” process of Helen Frankenthaler, but also the color theories of Josef Albers, or the energy of Francis Bacon, all of whom she lists as inspirations for her own work. Apart from her interest in abstract expressionism, Valenzuela also finds inspiration through film, especially the works of Brazilian documentary filmmaker Petra Costa, and Chilean-born artist, architect, and filmmaker Alfredo Jaar. Jaar is also well known for his installations, documented through photographs, which often focus on socio-political issues and involve human interaction and participation.

The influences of Jaar’s work can be seen in Valenzuela’s new installation projects. She has been creating temporary interventions into wide open natural environments, documented in photo works. One of her recent installations was Life and Death of Painting in the Space, undertaken in 2017. She placed large pieces of paper painted with latex, some crumpled into strange shapes and others cut into strips, within the landscape of a shipwreck on the coast of Chile, in the port of Valparaíso. Through her intervention into the space, she transformed the landscape briefly into something completely different, and documented the transformation through photographs. The influence of abstract expressionist painting can still be seen in the large painted paper objects, but by placing them within the environment they become something unique and new.

During her residency at SomoS, partially conducted as a Virtual Artist Residency, Valenzuela aims to continue to create installation pieces, and paintings that will be used in future installations. She says that she plans to create works that center around public space, people, painting, and the experiences that can take place within specific environments. She would like to subvert the traditional format of viewing a work on the wall of a gallery space, instead playing with possibilities of three-dimensionality, and involving the viewers in an installation that transforms the artwork into an experiment, and an experience. She would also like to address social, cultural, and political issues, particularly issues surrounding immigration and space, and how humans bond and interact with each other. We look forward to welcoming her to the residency program here at SomoS.

Valenzuela began her artist career at 17 years old, when she entered the College of Arts at the Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago, Chile. In 2011 she received her Bachelor of Visual Arts, with a mention in painting. She has had solo exhibitions in Santiago de Chile, and in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has also participated in several group shows, also in Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires. In addition to painting, she has also produced film festivals in Chile and Argentina. She worked as a producer in the LatinArab Festival in Argentina, the SurDocs international documentary film festival, and in the Network of Cinemas in Chile.