Interview with Raúl Valladares Valdés, Sculptor

Artist to Artist by © Rocío Heredia

How has been your experience as an artist in La Habana?
This is the most difficult question but at all. You can figure living in a country like Cuba that has been blocked and has the most difficult economic situation and I work doing sculptures in silver, one of the most expensive art techniques. What contradictory, right? Many of my clients and people who admires my artwork can't believe that I live in La Habana, to tell the truth, it has been extremely difficult to develop my work, but I can´t complain, I've been received support from galleries and institutions from La Habana city, in spite of the economic problems, the Cuban artists are very creative and enthusiastic, who inspire you to create and develop your artwork.

When did you become interested in art?
Since I was a little boy I got interested in painting, later was music, I studied guitar and violin. Finally, when I was 17 years old discovered my interest for metals.

How did you discover your talent for metalsmithing and sculpture?
I studied the Technology of metals, but already I had an artistic interest, so I combined my technical knowledge with the artistc ones, until I decided to became a full-time artist.

I understand you are self taught. How do you conceive you not having a formal art education has affected you as an artist?
I do believe that a person borns with a natural gift, and this is a sign about what is going to become in the future, it doesn't matter if has or not formal background, if you were born to be an artist, you must polish it.

What was your first sculpture? I'm curious...Do you have a picture of that first work?
My first artwork was a sculpture made in wood, I was too young, so I don't keep any photo of this piece.

Metal plays an essential function in your artwork. What was your first introduction to metalwork?
When I was studying metal's technology, I discovered all the ways that metals can approach in the sculpture's world, you may express a form using its texttures, hardness, durability adn solidity.

Which movements have you been influenced by?
Any art that has to be with the future, or rather, any futurist expression in cinema, theater and painting, the image itself influences my work.

I wonder if you are influenced by a particular space or place around you?
Yes, there are two special places that influence in my work, my home and my workshop, have arranged and decorated in such way that I can spend long hours working without leaving it, even for a couple of days.

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?
There are some. I admire Roberto Fabelo, a visual artist from Cuba and internationally, Picasso. Both artists worked in a futurist way, this is very important for me, an artwork that finds meaning in the future rather than in the present, then it is even more creative. That was one of the great successes of Picasso. But above at all, I must mention another artist who has been my most important influence, the Director and Film Maker Steven Spielberg. We had been talked and we both were agree about the effect of his work and imagination have in my art. It made me feel very proud and satisfied.

Where do your ideas come from? Would you tell us about your creative process?
Recurrently I draw a project with a serie of pieces for a deternined event, I do sketches, drawings, and then, I work on the piece. But sometimes I just go to my shop and Istart to work and I try to develop an idea in such way the metal requires it. I enjoy both of them.

The diverse textures and materials are a temptation to the sense of touch. How would you describe your artwork?
This is a difficult question. When an artist talks about his/her artwork is one of the great challenges. I dare to say that I try to create an artwork that finds meaning in the future, working with several textures and forms, trying to go over the human imagination.

Tell us what role recognition and Awards have on your career?
Recognition and awards are surely ones of the crucial moments for any artist, indeed that's why we work for, but I consider as a great prize even when the most humble person of the world said a praise about my artwork.

What have been the favourite projects to date in your career, and why?
My favourite project will be to have one of my works in the Vatican in the future, because this is the place where you can find the greatest sculptors and goldsmiths of the world.

Please tell us about your sculpting technique. What are the materials that you prefer to handle?
I would describe it as a technical collage, I work several methods to obtain a specific shape: chasing, casting, laminating, etc. For me any kind of metals has the same status.

What do you enjoy most about working in this medium?
Create an artwork beginning from nothing.

What challenges have you found in your work?
The challenges are many, but the most hard is to impose your artwork on others.

How have you found the popularity of the Internet to affect your work?
It didn't affected my work at all. I am one of the persons which thinks that art and technology need to go hand by hand.

Does the Internet have a positive or negative influence on art ?
Positive, the Internet connects artists and allows to enjoy any kind of art in a short time. The computer lets you see any artistic movement from around the world. Internet has practically become the informative medium of the art, where you can approach the galleries and museums, well, everything that is art related.

What is your greatest ambition as sculptor?
That my work would be remembered eternally.

What are your working on at present? Would you give us a preview?
Next year I will have a solo exhibition at the Museo de Arte Decorativa (Museum of Decorative Art). Actually, I'm working in an artpiece for an auction that it will be carried out in next February.

Finally, what advice would you give a young sculptor just starting and wondering where to start?
The advice that always I give, to work every day indefatigably. The work is the foundation of the man.

Dear Raúl, our viewers, and I appreciate your time and responses to my questions. Sincerely, Rocío

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