Alberto Valladares

Alberto Valladares, Metal Skin Dance…

Last modified: March 3, 2023

Monuments are constructed of many materials, and this one sculpted by Alicia in the ballet Giselle is eternal, it comes from the very soul. That is the reason why, even after celebrating in 2020 the Centennial of the famous ballerina and founder – with Fernando and Alberto Alonso – of the National Ballet of Cuba and the National School of Ballet, she continues to emerge from the talent and the work of many artists from the most dissimilar manifestations and generations who pay homage to her with Art. Like in the pieces of a goldsmith and sculptor who, with his works, brings to us memories, emotions…, and reveals the dancing light through the Art.

Alberto Valladares (Havana, 1962) is a distinguished artist/goldsmith, awarded in several International Fairs of Handcrafts (FIART), in Cuba, and in other meetings. For a long time he has taken the dance to the metal in pieces of jewelry and sculptures. The dance has become the protagonist of his creative stories. His signature is present in pieces in which silver, bronze, nickel silver, iron, agate, as well as black, green and Carrara marbles have become high quality Art. In the sculptures, he gathers the lyrical spirit of the dance classicism and the telluric force of goldsmithing (where the fire and the hammer open paths…). From the classical ballet he has extracted examples to solder them with his dreams: Gisselle can “dance” from his expert hand with articulated forms, and The Death of the Swam overflows with lyricism on silver and marble. His Carmen/Alonso unleashes the passionate inner being of a woman in love; Coppelia is a magical spiral of turns to the infinite dancing to the intense rhythm of his creativity; while Don Quixote and Kitri recreate the spirit of love with a metal heart for two…His imagination is unlimited. He experiments with the most audacious forms, and plays with the art and the most diverse materials. And his jewels are inspired by ballets where Alicia set indelible marks. Reflejos del Lago, El amor de Dido, Taglioni in Memorian, Recuerdos de Cascasnueces, and other tittles name different set of earrings, rings, pendants, bracelets, brooches… where fantasy addresses reality as its equal.

An autodidact, the artist learned jewelry on his own. He entered the Cuban Association of Artisans and Artists (ACCAA) and, step by step, his natural talent molded itself in goldsmithing from which he can’t detach now. It was a love at first sight that has allowed him to reach numerous dreams…

The dance is not the only subject that has kidnapped his talent for creation. Today, with a vast experience in this work, he treats different themes that land on his pieces: the flora, the landscape, the colonial architecture, some city elements…, everything is useful for creating with metals. An example of this is the series for the 500th Anniversary of Havana, created in 2019 with symbols of the beautiful city of San Cristóbal de la Habana which rest in the showcase of his studio-workshop-jewelry Praga, situated in the center of Havana Boulevard (At 215 San Rafael and Aguila Street, Centro Habana). His work exhales a combination of yesterday and today, past and present, like a monolithic block. Everlasting traces that are reborn in silver and in many other metals where the city is reflected in time, like a mirror that brings the other reality closer by means of Art.

As if they were jewels that came from an ancient sailboat submerged chest, he rescues pieces from his imagination. New pieces that have in them the five centuries of the city; gestures that are printed in the forms and tones of jewels/objects where ghosts, memories and dreams wonder around and in his hands they become stories “sculpted” in silver; they take form in an artistic dimension. Fragments of the city of columns, screens’ reminiscences, semicircular arches, stained-glasses, masks and many other architectural elements from the colonial epoch; landscapes, dance, daily life, history, art in all its dimensions… breathe now in his works of Cuban goldsmithing to adorn the tastes of women and men of the Havana’s 21st century. They also talk about the Caribbean light that receives them. They are unique pieces in silver and other metals that reveal a particular style of Cuban goldsmithing, which combines traditional and contemporary tendencies to trap all gazes.

Toni Piñera
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Journalist for more than 30 years at the Granma newspaper, art and dance critic, professor at the National Academy of Fine Arts San Alejandro, curator of Cuban art exhibitions (former director of the La Acacia gallery, Havana), poet.

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