Surgery and art are closer than you’d think, as they are both centered on body. But if many children dreamt to become a surgeon and became an artist instead, there are few surgeons becoming artists. Dino Valls is an exception. Born in 1959, this Spanish painter passed his Medicine and Surgery degree in 1982, the same year he learned oil painting. Now living in Madrid, he devotes his life to painting, but without forgetting his medical obsession. At first sight, Dino Valls’ paintings can be a bit disturbing, especially if you are staying over the surface.

Your eyes are first attracted by those of a recurrent heroine, a young woman oscillating between childhood and adulthood. She stares at the beholder with her pale and mysterious eyes, sometimes expressing pain, sometimes melancholy, but finally very puzzling and witty. Her nudity is also uncomfortable. She is exposed, like a patient in the surgeon’s table or perhaps a masterpiece in the restorer’s table. Indeed, Dino Valls is injecting references to ancient arts inside his paintings: references to Italian and Flemish masters, Byzantine icons, illuminations, embroideries, wax seals from old letters, old maps and bas-reliefs. The classic inspiration is not only visual. Dino Valls also uses ancient techniques, mixing oil with gold leaves and egg or casein tempera. But, behind these too obvious obsessions for medical voyeurism and Fine Arts, the paintings of Dino Valls are keeping their deeper and mysterious meaning. Their size is actually very small, yet they are really intricate, full of details, all participating to the esoteric allegory.

The artist quotes the Jungian analytical psychology as his main influence, and it’s very clear, when studying his work, that his paintings are definitely not portraits, and that the religious themes are not a tribute to sacred art. The main characters are our mind, our unconscious, grappling with our mortal body (Medicine), the narrow-minded teachings of the society (Religion), the weight of History (Art) and the angst of our intrusive world (the cabinet of curiosity theme). This is why Dino Valls’ dark and mystic art is so disturbing for us, it is touching us at a very deep level and forcing us to decode the clues he left for us…

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