There is something about the faces Valeria Feliu paints that is hard to put into words. One particular face stayed on my mind even after taking my eyes off her for many hours. The painting is of a portrait of a woman with delicate features, her blue eyes slightly sunken with sorrow.
The contours of her face are made prominent with masterful depiction of light and shadow, and just like every woman in Valeria’s portrait series, she graces a bouquet of blooming flowers on the top of her head like a crown.
I can’t help myself but wonder who these women are. The range of expressions and emotions they carry seemed to hint at a different story behind them - curiosity, sorrow, hope, contempt and contemplation; each beautiful in their own way, with unique features and skin tones celebrating the different ethnicities. I decided to reach out to Valeria in an effort to find out more about the mystery behind these enchanting faces.
Valeria was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Starting from an early age, she had already developed an infatuation with the world art. Keen to try new things, she attended numerous art workshops including ceramic, painting and photography on her own time.
It was, however, a workshop on renowned Argentine painter “Adolf Nigro” she attended while completing her Visual Communications degree where she became incredibly inspired and intrigued by the world of painting. As a young rebel, she decided to start off with abstraction as it is a way for her to escape to her world without seeking affirmation from her peers and the art scene at that time.
She stumbled upon painting realism by chance. A mix of personal introspect and dissatisfaction about life triggered her to venture into trying something completely opposite than what she had been doing all her life. “Suddenly, a calm, relaxed and natural thing started to happen. Reality. It was in front of me, showing me amazing things. It feels like I started to see the world with a different set of eyes”, said Valeria as she described her discovery into realism. “The work progress became more comfortable and easy. Everything made sense, and I felt I have arrived to my place”.
Her first instinctive challenge was painting faces after adapting into realism. She choose to paint portraits of women as she was most familiar with their features. “The faces I choose to paint don’t have a logical explanation. There are certain faces that I see under a different light, and they will reach my cortex like a painting. It is a haunting and exhilarating feeling” described Valeria. “The more I study the female face, the more captivated I become”.
When I asked how she wanted her audience to perceive her portraits, she simply replied “I like it when the significance of the painting is worked out by the viewers”. It immediately became clear to me that my perception of these woman is merely a reflection of my personal history. Who they really are, still remains a mystery. It is perhaps this mysterious component that makes these faces even more captivating, with elegant poise and spirited eyes.
Valeria is currently a full-time painter living with her family in her hometown. She is passionate towards her life as a painter and spends much of her spare time studying the native South American tree “Lapacho”, transfixed by the way these trees blossom.
For more of Valeria Feliu’s work, visit: