Jaime Valtierra, originally from Madrid, is a painter based in London and is a current studio holder here at Bow Arts. Jaime’s work has been selected for the Bow Open Show consecutively for three years since having a studio with us in 2016.
Jaime, you’ve been painting for many years now – do you remember your earliest memory of painting and when exactly you decided for it to become your career?
Before, I painted I actually drew quite a lot – so my earliest memories are of me drawing. My mother always tells this funny story of how I used to draw on the curtain of the bathroom and the walls as a young boy. I came from quite an artistic family (though they were working class), so my uncle is a painter, my father paints as well and my grandfather would draw. My grandparents half raised me – and my grandfather was very good at technical drawings and so I learned to draw from him in my very early years.
When do you think has been the biggest shift or moment of change in the way you work and your practice?
I think there were two major changes in my painting. The first one was probably when I came to the UK when I was 20 – that was a huge change in my life. That was then amplified when I went to the Royal Drawing School – I really became immersed in the London school painters like Kossoff and Freud for example – so I tried different styles that were influenced by these painters when I arrived in London…this was almost like a cultural change. Funnily enough, after being at The Royal Drawing School, I went into quite a realistic period – looking back at Baroque paintings from Spain from artists like Velázquez and Murillo. I think this happened because I felt a bit empty and maybe missing a part of my identity and so, I felt like I had to gain some cultural capital if that’s what you could call it. Eventually, I then took that all in alongside my influence of the painters I mentioned from London, to help define my work today.
For me, the work that I have seen of yours is extremely expressive as well as being quite personal and emotional. When dealing with themes such as meaning and identity, do you ever feel like you can become too invested in the process?
For me, to make a painting I believe you have to go deep – I understand there are other kinds of painting but personally, once I choose a subject I will really immerse myself in that particular subject, involve myself in all the ideas that relate to it and where my place is within those ideas. I have always tried to get the best out of each piece.
Because of that, has there ever been a time where you have involved yourself too much and have had to take a step back?
That used to happen much more when I was younger – I would go into a painting so full on that I would destroy it eventually as I was unable to detach. I had to develop ways of detaching myself from the painting as well as the ideas. One thing that helps me is drawing – a lot of the process of my painting actually happens in drawings, and in the process of making a piece, I will actually jump into a quick drawing in order to give myself some distance. Another thing that helps is reading – I love to read and I find it very refreshing, it really helps me to think about life with a completely different medium to what I surround myself with every day.
You have been involved with Bow Arts for quite some time now. Mainly as a studio holder, but also being selected for three years running for the Bow Open show, as well as being chosen to represent Bow Arts at The London Art Fair. What has been your favourite part of being involved in the Bow Arts community so far?
I think because I’m originally from another country my network is much more limited and for me, it’s been great to be part of Bow Arts in helping my work be more visible because of the various programmes such as the Bow Open Show, and the support the organisation gives. It’s also attracted attention for external exhibitions and competitions that I’ve been selected for in the past three years. Due to the nature of my practice, I’m quite like a hermit in a way, I’m alone a lot and it’s difficult for me to socialise with the work that I do so it’s been great to feel like I’m part of a great complex with other like-minded, talented artists.
You can find out more about Jaime and his work at his website here.
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