I grew up surrounded by the smell of oil paint,
turpentine and linseed oil. I was taught to look
beyond the basic colors and search for the subtle
tones. A leaf was not just green; it could be
yellow-green, red-green, or brown-green. This is how
my father taught me to look at the world, and until
today this is how I perceive it. I like to believe
that I was born an artist; that it is my fate and that
no matter what I do, I cannot deny it.

I am a painter that loves stories. I grew up in Medellín, Colombia listening to fairy tales and urban legends, so it is not surprising that my work is infused with strong narratives.
 
My work is nurtured from childhood experiences and inner memories.  I grew up during one of the toughest times of our country’s history. The drug wars were vicious to say the least, and it was often that I felt that the magical realism from García Márquez was a necessary invention to survive such violence.  My paintings seem innocent and almost naïve at first, but a deeper contemplation would throw the reading to a different direction.

Over the years I have developed my own visual vocabulary, which includes elements like void spaces, patterns, and photo transfers. I nurture my paintings from many sources: found pictures, old drawings from nature and anatomy books, movies, fashion, literature, old photographs found in flea markets, etc. I often combine photo transfer with drawing and painting. Photography references to both reality and memory, while drawing and painting allow me to bring an intuitive response to the images. Patterns become exaggerated, colors transformed, and shapes simplified. I regularly bring the sharpness and boldness of illustration techniques, combined with a loose and emotional reaction to the materials. I also believe in the power of images and words, and it is often that I consciously incorporate text in my paintings to add a double meaning to the visual.

My personal philosophy is quite simple:  Everything one does should be beautiful.  It is not a denial of reality, but an acknowledgment that beauty is still present –and needed in our acts, our thoughts, our ideals, and our interactions with the world and with the other, especially nowadays when racism and hate speeches are becoming normal.  Beauty can work politically and critically if we consider it not only as a specific kind of aesthetic pleasure, but a means for critical engagement.

I am eager to explore into new challenges to bring new aesthetics to my work, while keeping the core of my interest: The belief that art can bring us together. 

Sandra Mack-Valencia
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