Vincent Valdez is an accomplished draughtsperson in many mediums. Distinguished for their realism, his paintings and drawings are metaphorical critiques of social and political orders.
From 2000-2005, a recurring subject in Valdez’s work was his brother Daniel, and he appears frequently in works such as Any Day Now, I Shall Be Released (2003) as well as his new series The Strangest Fruit (2013). Perhaps, as a form of brotherly role-play, his depictions of Daniel explore the proscriptive models of masculinity experienced in both Latino and American society. His approach to realism changed, however, in 2009 when his best friend Combat Medic John Holt Jr died while on active duty with the US Army in Iraq. In response, Valdez spent two years creating Excerpts for John (2012), a commemorative body of drawing, painting and video work recording the homecoming, funeral and burial of John. Since 2009, Valdez has been reconciling his metaphorical style with a sense of urgency to address real events and the historical, social and political issues of his time.
His most recent body of work, The Strangest Fruit, places realistic depictions of people known by the artist within an historical subject—the lynching of Latinos in Texas and the United States more broadly—metaphorically illustrating the persecution and oppression felt by contemporary Latinos in the United States. The series of large-scale, oil on canvas works the supposed throes and aftermath of a death by hanging. Slightly larger than life-size, the figures float, decontextualized, on a white background. The ropes that bind them are no longer visible, and the composition becomes an ambiguous scene between hanging and ascension.
Occurring over a period of nearly one hundred years between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, the lynching of Lat