“There is no better surgeon than a man with many scars.”
— Spanish Proverb
There is a saying in the medical profession: “Great surgeons make great incisions.” While certainly few professions demand finer precision and skill than what we expect of surgeons, we know there is more to this statement than a simple celebration of craftmanship. To be a good surgeon means to be able to slice open a body fearlessly. Without hesitation and without flinching.
Of course observing the operation is an entirely different matter. There’s a reason family members and friends are not allowed in the operating room. Surgery is not for the faint of heart.
Consider the work of Spanish artist Dino Valls, trained as a surgeon yet who upon graduation made the decision to focus all of his energies on painting. But be forewarned: Valls does not ease into his subjects; he works forcefully and seemingly without fear. Or is it precisely because of fear that he makes these incisions?
INTERVIEW WITH DINO VALLS, FIGURATIVE PAINTER
Deanna Phoenix Selene: Throughout your work there is a pervasive feeling of uneasiness. Given your training as a surgeon, I might even say, “dis-ease.” For me personally, it calls up memories of how helpless it felt to go under the knife. In surgery, the patient is literally tied down and rendered unconscious. Are there times in your own life where you have experienced a similar sense of helplessness, apprehension, even terror, as what one feels as a patient?
Dino Valls: Maybe is the same defenselessness that we feel when we face the fragility of our own existence.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: In Jungian psychology there is an acknowledgement that men and women possess aspects of each other’s gender ~ that men have an anima, or feminine awareness that comes out in dreams and creative efforts. What is your own connection with anima? How does it manifest itself in your life and in your work?
Dino Valls: One of the basic themes in my work is the duality in conflict, the struggle for the integration of the opposites, as a process of totalization of the human being.
Simultaneously, my painting is to me the mystic process that I follow to achieve my own integration.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: Is it very different to paint a woman than to paint a man?
Dino Valls: Of course when the painting is a symbolic process, not a mere mimetic procedure.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: If art is a powerful medium for tapping into the collective unconscious, do you feel that artists have a moral responsibility to tread carefully in how it is expressed?
Dino Valls: Art was created with the symbolic thought of the human being, and its deepest meaning is the communication with our unconscious, firstly in a personal level in the artist itself, then with the spectator through the collective unconscious.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: In regards to your own paintings, what have you experienced to be the themes that trigger the most passionate responses in your viewers? What does that reveal about where we need to place more of our attention in nurturing a healthy society?
Dino Valls: The synthesis between beauty and metaphysical pain, a transfigured pain.
My works don’t give us answers, but propose questions, which force us to reflect on our existence, they force us to look at our deepest inner.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: What were the very first themes you recall exploring as a young artist experimenting with this medium?
Dino Valls: Right after a beginning period of training with the technique, I soon focused my work in the human being in its psychic dimension.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: Are there any ideas that you have found at this point even now in your career too challenging to try to express in a painting?
Dino Valls: I think that exactly the themes that I treat; this is the reason because I keep on trying it.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: What is the single greatest compliment someone has given you about your work?
Dino Valls: Several times some people have said to me that my painting has changed his or her life vision. I feel a shiver when someone says me that.
Deanna Phoenix Selene: Where would you like to go next in your artistic explorations?
Dino Valls: I don’t know consciously, so that meanwhile I hope to never finish the wandering explorations through the unconscious.
|See more works by Dino Valls at dinovalls.com.|
|Read painter and professor Michael Pearce’s analysis of Dino Valls’ work in the accompanying Combustus piece, “What’s on Dino Valls’ Mind?“|