Visual Art


Anatomy of Heaven: Dino Valls

Dino Valls is a Spanish painter of exquisite surreal works which explore the human psyche via the body, medical analogies, religious imagery, and sexuality. Hauntingly beautiful and photorealistic, his paintings have a sense of classicism and an incredible technical virtuosity. The subjects have a radiant, heavenly cast to their faces, reminiscent of classics by old masters and medieval religious paintings. The body is portrayed as fragmented, segmented, doubled, vivisected, deformed, and androgynous – both oddity and sacrosanct vessel. Parts of their anatomy are displaced, scores of needles adorn the ethereal figures.

These images powerfully illustrate statements about the way that the modern body is invaded, pried into, operated upon, examined, measured, and manipulated, making a commentary on the impersonal, objectifying treatment of modern medicine. There is often a disembodied hand taking hold of the subject in a possessive, invasive way, evoking the cold, clinical, authoritative touch of doctors, with sexual and sinister overtones. The surgery they perform on the people is symbolic and laden with dark, occult meanings. I love the subtly disturbing way in which Valls uses anatomical symbolism and naked human vulnerability to create these resonant images, and the way that he both perverts and glorifies the human form and spirit.