The Art of Verdadism

Verdadism is a distinct form of Hard-Edge Abstract Expressionism wherein paintings are juxtaposed with written social commentaries. Verdadism was created by Soraida Martinez in 1992 at her home studio in Marlton, New Jersey, in an effort by the artist to precipitate social change, as well as promote a deeper understanding of the human soul and tolerance. In Verdadism, the intent of the artist is to make a personal connection with the viewer through the act of involving the viewer in an actual experience in the artist's life. In the "Verdadism Work-Of-Art," the viewer is encouraged to acknowledge the universality of human nature and the artist invites the viewer to open his or her mind to the concept that we are all human beings with shared experiences common to the whole of humanity.

The Origin of Verdadism

Verdadism was created by the painter, Soraida Martinez, in response to an American society that routinely diminishes the artistic accomplishments of Puerto Ricans, African-Americans, Women and other so-called "minorities." Soraida, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, was born in New York City's Harlem in 1956. Exposed to the multicultural environment of New York and raised during the social upheavals of the late 1960's to early 1970's (when American society was coming to terms with deeply-rooted problems of racism and sexism), Soraida's Verdadism Art evolved as a result of her struggle to break away from the confining shackles of American society and her desire to foment positive social change. Formally-educated in fine art and professionally-trained as a graphic designer, Soraida created the word Verdadism by combining the Spanish word for truth (Verdad) and the English suffix for theory (ism). According to Soraida, "Verdadism means to empower yourself with your own truth and to go for it." In 1994 - at a time when racism and sexism in America prevailed underground - Soraida made the debut of her Verdadism paintings in Camden, New Jersey, at an exhibition entitled...Soraida's Verdadism: The Intellectual Voice Of A Puerto Rican Woman on Canvas.

The Elements of Verdadism

Verdadism consists of two distinct, yet integral, parts: the visual component and the written commentary. The visual style of Verdadism extends the boundaries of conventional Abstract Expressionism towards a more contemporary, multicultural perspective where broad areas of bold colors and geometric shapes coalesce and synthesize to create a harmonious composition in which a wide range of feelings and moods are melodically-conveyed. And, even though much of the visual aspect of Verdadism emphasizes figurative hard-edge abstraction, stylistically-speaking there is also present the spiritual influence of the art of many periods and cultures - including "Fauvists" principles, elements of Surrealism and West African sculpture. Purposeful simplification of form and structure...large areas of flat (basically primary) colors...abstract human figures with blocks for hands and/or elongated shapes for bodies...these are some of the visual trademarks of the art of Verdadism. At the heart of Verdadism are the artist's written commentaries, which are displayed alongside the paintings and should be considered as contributing to a more complete understanding of the underlying impetus for rendering the visual work of art. This essential aspect of Verdadism usually emanates from the need of the artist to make change and is fundamentally a literary expression of the artist's inner-most feelings. The criteria for writing the social commentaries is honest subjectivity where issues of relevance in the artist's life are directly confronted. In Verdadism, the experience of overcoming instances of racism and sexism, as well as the constant evaluation of personal relationships and other life observations, are what form the basis for the artistic expression that culminates in Verdadism.

The Philosophy Behind Verdadism

Influenced by Existentialist Philosophy, the art of Verdadism is an act of self-actualization with a goal towards making social change. For the artist, it is through the thematic treatment of personal life experiences as the subject matter for making introspective works of art. For the viewer, it is through the process of emotionally sharing (visually and intellectually) the effect of the human experience that has so profoundly affected the artist's life. In theory, Verdadism seeks to analyze common issues of humanity through the conscious amalgamation of abstract art, humanistic philosophy and social responsibility. Verdadism is essentially individualistic in practice, with the artist taking the power of their own individual truth into their own hands and utilizing this personal experience as the catalyst for creativity. Much like the improvisatory Jazz musician, the Verdadist breaks away from following the conventional methods of defining art or the accepted modes of traditional thinking...both of which are generally and usually tainted with years of ethnocentrism, cultural biases and racial prejudice. Not restricted to just visual artists, the Verdadism movement can be seen in the "Verdadist" art of the "Nuyorican Poets" and certain contemporary "Rappers." As we reach the end of the twentieth century, Verdadism continues to establish itself as a moving force in American art. And, into the twenty-first century, the "Verdadism Art" of multicultural artists, writers and creative thinkers will continue to forge a historically-significant awareness of a "new world perspective."

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