I am Valentina Vicario

I’ve been an artist as long as I can remember. Even as a small girl I was an avid observer of nature, of human interactions and architecture. I was known for taking interest in everything, sculpting, clay work, painting, jewellery, learning about various cuisines or discussing art and culture.

I feel a strong connection with the styles and works of famous artists such as Aubrey Beardsley, Frida Khalo, Gustav Klimpt, Marc Chagall and Barbara Hepworth, to name a few. Although these are very different artists they all speak to me on a deeply personal level. I see my aesthetic in their work so am drawn to it and their life stories. I express my love of life and it’s passions sharing my experience through different mediums, dance song and Art.

Born in Barcelona in 1978 to Anabella Pellens and Ricardo Vicario, my parents were escaping the military government in Argentina at a time when a vast number of freethinking people were being killed and their children adopted by military families. We travelled through Europe and partook as extras in ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ film series in Jerusalem and ‘The Life of Brian’. This ancient city had an early influence on me and I have the essence of that landscape etched into my subconscious.

I then lived in Argentina with my parents until the age of 6. Argentina is a vast country of dramatic landscapes and vistas that inevitably shaped some of my artistic drive. The countryside, with its expansive pampas, mountains and rivers where I played with my siblings feature heavily in my work. These early experiences have equipped me with a range of sensations that inevitably feature.

A broken family upbringing taught me some tough lessons and I found strength through self-expression. As an avid reader I found familiarity in the Complete Works of Lewis Carroll, creating fantasy worlds in my writing and art alluding to the true macabre reality of my life, helped me get through some of the toughest times as a child under attack from a depraved paedophile. These pieces were a method of catharsis for me. Art has allowed me to deal with emotions that would have otherwise been destructive. Mental tension, emotional insecurity and the mortality of the human condition were all concepts that I had to deal with from a very young age. The helplessness of childhood hindered further by adults in my life created traumatic experiences that have shaped me as a person and artist. The concepts of light and dark, truth and lies, life and death are evident in my work. Without art I would not have been able to sublimate the trauma I experienced as a child. Art is life and life is Art!

Later as my style developed through exploration of materials and processes, I fixated somewhat on Symbolic Art. Expressionism lent itself perfectly to the idea of Art connecting with the collective subconscious and reflecting one’s inner emotional life, and so I meld genres to create the desired effect. Colour is utilized only as a vehicle to force inner battles outward. I execute each piece accordingly endowing it aspects of myself, candid exposures of my private life, some more ethereal than others but all with the grounding intensity I demand of myself.

I enjoy universal symbolism utilising it to explore the contrasting emotions evoked by the struggles of living, loving, feeling pain and the anticipation of death.  My methods are varied for creating art innovatively, a ‘build up’ of the piece occurs, a ritualistic experience of expressing in various different forms of art: paint, sculpture, textile arts, fashion, quilting, pottery or/and paper-making, bringing forth facets of my emotions and personality. Nothing is coincidental. Mind and body connect to produce evocative shape and imagery that jolts, reminds and inspires the viewer to reflect on themselves, to be immersed in hues, to appreciate the texture of things.

Up-cycling and adaptation of ‘junk’ and found object materials attracts me to atone for my own wasteful sins. The act of breathing new life into otherwise useless things and inspiring my audience to engage with these pieces, to want to touch and possess/experience it is joyous.

A theme that I return to repeatedly is ‘Reflections of the Soul’, this is a concept based partly on Jungian Psychology. In this vein the Shamanistic nature of my work has evolved, my dreams came true and my 27-year relationship with Louis Leitch is a testament to that foresight. (I know it’s weird!) Those visions and dreams have added drama to the nature of my Art, expose my inner self to the viewer and hopefully evoking deep emotions and memories. My story of struggle and survival, of the power of intrigue and love that’s barely begun to unfold.