A 12-Year-Old Art Prodigy Has Been Compared To Picasso

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Andres Valencia, a 12-year-old boy from California, is gaining attention for his large, colorful paintings influenced by Cubism. He creates imaginative artworks using a mix of oil sticks and oil and acrylic paint. When art pieces are large, Andres uses a step ladder to reach them.

Recently, Andres painted “Romero,” a medium-sized piece featuring a bullfighter surrounded by vibrant blue color with his chaquetilla (a heavy jacket) embroidered with flowers and jewels and a face in a swirl of Cubist abstraction. 

Andres Valencia’s Romero

This impressive painting from a 12-year-old artist draws comparisons to Picasso.

In 1889, Pablo Picasso was just eight years old when he painted “Le petit picador jaune,” a small oil painting inspired by his visiting bullfights in Spain with his father. 

Pablo Picasso’s Le petit picador jaune

The painting shows a bullfighter on horseback wearing bright yellow pants and a jacket, or “chaquetilla,” at the center. 

Now, you might wonder when Andres started painting.

Andres’ interest in painting began when he was five years old when his father showed him a film about Jean-Michel Basquiat. Andres then told his father, “I can do that.”

His classmates were also among the first to notice his amazing talent. While they were drawing simple things like “smiley faces and stuff,” Valencia was drawing more complex surrealist elements, which resembled the work of Picasso. 

When Valencia was in first grade, his mother, Elsa Valencia, visited the school to take pictures and was surprised to see his classmates rushing over to see his drawings. 

“Some days I paint, other days I don’t,” Andres says. “It just depends on how much homework I get.”

When he was six, the artist started selling his watercolor paintings to family and friends for $20 each. As he got older, Andres started making big paintings using oil sticks, oil, and acrylic paints. 

His art was inspired by modern artists such as Picasso, Jean-Michel Basquiat, George Condo, Salvador Dalí, and Amedeo Modigliani.

Elsa and Lupe Valencia supported their son’s talent by giving him materials like paints and canvases and encouraging him to pursue his passion.

Towards the end of the pandemic, a family friend noticed a really good painting of Andres and said he wanted to buy it. His mother hesitated at first, but the friend was Bernie Chase, a New York art dealer with a gallery in SoHo called Chase Contemporary. 

The paintings gained lots of attention in New York, so Chase decided to take Valencia to the Art Miami fair. 

Andres made history when he became the youngest artist to exhibit at Art Miami. In just three days, he sold all 17 paintings in his collection, with prices ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. All 35 displayed works were also sold, priced between $50,000 and $125,000. 

Some famous buyers of Valencia’s original pieces include Jordan Belfort, Brooke Shields, Channing Tatum, and Sofía Vergara.

Nick Korniloff, the director of Art Miami, wanted Valencia to show how Andres makes art. Many people came to watch Andres creating art in a hall full of artists who had been practicing for many years.

Andres’s painting “Ms. Cube,” a colorful, Cubist portrayal of an elegant woman, was auctioned for about $160,000 at Hong Kong’s Phillips de Pury.

Ms. Cube

But did you know that Andres’s art goes beyond exhibitions and collaborations? He has always looked for ways to give back through his art, raising over $300,000 for various charities and organizations.

One of his paintings was sold to raise funds for Ukraine.

So, how did he come up with the idea?

He was home sick from school when he learned about the invasion of Ukraine. This news deeply affected him, and he expressed his feelings, which inspired him to create his piece, “Invasion of Ukraine.”

Invasion of Ukraine

The painting shows a single eye shedding tears onto a Ukrainian flag in the top left corner with a heart and bullet casings, while a sinister soldier with a Russian flag armband holds a machine gun in the center.

In the center, there are people on the ground attempting to fight, and the hand of the Ukrainian soldier symbolizes power.

Andres supported Ukraine and their ongoing struggle by creating a drawing similar to Picasso’s Guernica. 

Working with The Klitschko Foundation, he plans to sell 550 prints at $950 each, with all proceeds benefiting the foundation. He hopes to raise at least half a million dollars for Ukraine by selling 500 prints.

Andres, along with his father Lupe, supported Ukraine through his art, acknowledging the ongoing hardships faced by the Ukrainian people and expressing hope for peace.

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