Beauty in Stunning Simplicity
Valeria Duca is a painter with a promising future. And, representing the Republic of Moldova, the youngest participant at the 54th Venice Biennale
Venice, June 2011. She is a phenomenon. Not even sixteen years old, this young woman has an innate talent, as a painter and as a colorist: The expressive spontaneity of her dancing brushstrokes, the intuitive capture of her protagonists' attitude, the subtle deepness of the space she suggests around them, appear at the same time impressionistic. And the rhythm of the pasty colours testify even musicality. That is stunning.
by Irmgard Berner
Talking to her and hearing that she has only finished 9th grade in school - with a maximum of ten points possible, makes it even more unbelievable that a young girl like that is able to paint in such mature manner. "Beauty will save the world", she quotes the great Russian writer Dostoyevsky self-confidently.
Valeria Duca is a passionate, great painting talent. She is a smart young woman with a strong will and over all a very sympathetic teenager. The German word "Wunderkind", child prodigy, would appropriately describe her. Growing up in Chișinău, the capitol of Moldova, she has already exhibited in Moscow and Lithuania, and two years ago in Reggio Emilia, Italy. There she had the idea, and furtheron wish to pariticipate in the Venice Biennale. As we can see it took her only two years to succeed. With the support of her parents - of course she is still underaged - they managed to take all bureaucratic obstacles, national Moldavian and Italian ones, and initiated the first Pavillion of the Republic of Moldavia.
Cosmos of Colours
“The world around me”, she titled the exhibition showing 32 works, all painted in classical manner: oil on canvas. From abstract to figurative. The concept of the exhibition is "the metamorphose of ideas in the context of different periods", Valeria describes it. "Thus the old and forgotten things gain luminosity", she adds, and "through these beautiful things, I wanted to transmit stillness, and spiritual fulfillment. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, or Cezanne said 'With an apple I want to astonish Paris'. In my opinion simplicity is so stunning because of its natural beauty."
The exhibition is based on this idea of beauty. "I hope that people feel the emotion I want to transmit through these paintings." Simple things from everyday life, things that surround us, and we are not really aware of any more, things only few people would stop to see how beautiful they are. In “Doomed” Valeria Duca painted a woman from the country because she was so impressed by her, her hard life, and how this life left signs on her face.
Her series of "Ballerinas" not only shows juvenile fancy for the gorgious beauty of classical dancers, but also a referance to Degas’ ballerinas, and "because I have a lot of friends ballerinas", Valeria admits. Flowers are a recurring motif in Valeria's work. They open the wide range of colourful expression in the young painter's cosmos and create her disposition. “New Year of Flowers”, a colourful explosion of leaves in paint-strokes she painted in half an hour on new year's eve: "because I was so impressed and happy about the ceremony".
Strong emotions being expressed through a great gift for painting.
Talk in the Venice Pavillion
The Venice exhibition is located in a small palazzo at a pituresque square behind San Marco. A rather quiet corner off main-stream tourist paths. The space allowes careful viewing.
We met there for an ample talk and asked Valeria Duca:
How did you apply for the Biennale? How did that work?
Valeria: Actually, Moldava does not have a pavillion in the Giardini. And because it is a poor country and we didn’t have the financial support, it was our initiative to get here. I made a lot of exhibitions, I had personal exhibitions through Europe in Italy, Moscow, Rumania, and I was very active as an artist there. So it was my initiative to get here. They supported us, of course, unfortunately we didn’t have any material support. We found sponsors - Rumanian companies, Romtelecom and TeamNet. And I am very proud, part of the sponsors – I sponsored myself. Because of the selling of the paintings.
I was dreaming to get here. To get here was like my dream come true. My family also encouraged and supported me morally and helped me a lot.
How do you manage your life with your passion for painting, school, sports - you even are champion in taek-won-do?
I love to paint, I basically paint every day. And I can't imagine my life without it. It is like a medium for me, a way I can show my emotion, my feelings, the way I see the world, create my own universe. There I can change things I don’t like, transmit feelings to the visitors. And I think because of this, because I am fond of painting I did all I did. And because of my family – they supported me a lot.
Do you have any painters that are important for you?
I love impressionists, I love Monet, Degas. I also love the classic Rumanian art, like Corneliu Baba, ‘Grigorescu. I took classes from important people in our country, that teach in the academy, professors etc. That is very interesting because every painter has his own vision. And it is very interesting to communicate with them, to see how they see the world, and their opinion about things. You also learn a lot about techniques and so on. A painter that basically changed my point of view – because since a year ago I was only painting abstract art – was Alexander Sheversky. He lives in Canada, he is Moldavian by origin. He paints ballerinas, though photorealistic. He changed me as a teacher. Not by the way he paints, but the way he explained it.
Painting is your passion. How do you deal with it here in Venice?
I have my sketch-book with me and still do some drawings. Venice is so beautiful and it is a pity when you don’t try to draw it. I was here about four times, but always in a hurry, stopping for only one day or two and I didn’t see Venice from this point of view. It so quiet and so artistic. Inspiring. It is very beautiful and it is so romantic also.
Do you also paint from photographs?
Usually I have models, my friends, my grandparents, just people I know. I don’t like to paint from photographs. You can't transmit these feelings of the person, feelings that persons have in the moment you are painting them. A photograph is just a paper, it doesn’t transmit anything.
And people really have the patience to sit there?
Sure! I try to ask my friends whom I know better, because I think you should know at least something about the person you're going to paint. You cant just paint models you don’t know at all. Through the painting you are also painting the soul of that people.
You are so young and you already have such a full mind of art. What do you think for the future?
Well, I want to study art. Somewhere in Europe or in Italy, or in Great Britain, I hope I will find a good academy.
You certainly will! Good luck to you and thank you for the talk.
photos: above: Valeria Duca in Venice, Biennale Pavillion © iberner | Portretul bunicului, 2011, oil on canvas, 90x60 cm; Destin, 2010, oil on canvas, 70x40 cm; Ballerina; Grandfather, Natură statică de revelion, 2011, oil on canvas, 90x60 cm; courtesy the artist | Valeria Duca in front of flower painting in Venice © iberner