Who Is Andres Valencia? Meet The 11-Year-Old Artist Loved By BTS’s V

How he went from replicating other artists to making thousands with his original pieces.

A few days ago, BTS’s V proudly showed off an art piece from his collection on Instagram. It was a portrait of him by Andres Valencia, a gift from the artist himself. V shared the picture with a caption mentioning that he is a fan of Valencia’s work.

| @thv/Instagram
| @thv/Instagram

Thank you @andresvalenciaart for this beautiful artwork!
Ever since I saw your work, I’ve been such a fan☺️

— V

Many people know Valencia’s name as the child prodigy of the contemporary art world today. His paintings sell for thousands of dollars, and apart from V, the list of his celebrity admirers includes names like Sofia Vergara, Channing Tatum, and Brooke Shields. But his success at 11 years of age is as fascinating as his journey as an artist who started when he was only four years old!

Andres Valencia | @andresvalenciaart/Instagram

Andres’s parents noticed that from an early age, he would spend hours in their San Diego dining room, sketching a painting by the graffiti artist Retna, one of his father’s former clients. Andres later revealed that he was very consciously trying to replicate the work accurately and it took him years to figure it out. But once he discovered his artistic strength, he started selling watercolors to family friends for  $20.

One of those early clients of Valencia was Bernie Chase, the owner of the Chase Contemporary art gallery in New York. Mr. Chase offered to pay $100 to the child artist every time he visited the Valencias in San Diego. When Andres wanted to raise his price to $5,000, Mr. Chase shockingly agreed to pay the amount for one of his pieces. But his mother, Elsa Valencia, objected and stopped him from writing the cheque.

Bernie Chase, the owner of “Chase Contemporary”| Wikimedia Commons

Nevertheless, Mr. Chase bought enough paintings from Andres to convince his parents to let him pursue art as a professional. He got in touch with Nick Korniloff, the director of Art Miami, to debut the child artist. Mr. Korniloff later revealed that he didn’t have much confidence in the talent of a 10-year-old painter when he first heard of him from Mr. Chase. But he decided to give it a shot because he felt that the story of this exceptionally young artist could be gratifying during the despairing environment of the early pandemic years.

But Mr. Korniloff decided to play it safe and didn’t’ mention Andres’s’ age in any of the fair’s promotional materials. Against his skepticism, Anders’s works swiftly became the center of attention in the art world. As the word spread about the child artist, reporters started to seek verifications that those art pieces that sold for thousands of dollars were indeed created by a middle schooler. That’s when Mr. Korniloff invited Andres to paint live alongside Bradley Theodore, a popular street artist several decades older than him. It drew more media attention toward the prodigy.

Sofia Vergara posted a selfie with Andres’s art in her office | @andresvalenciaart/Instagram

Within a year, Andres’ artistry proved its prowess as revered collectors like Tomy Mottola and Jessica Goldman Srebnick ended up acquiring his work during Art Basel Miami Beach. This year in June, Andres had a solo exhibition at the Chase Contemporary, where all of his 35 artworks were sold, earning somewhere between $50,000 to $125,000. But the highest-earning paintings of Andres were sold for even more. At a Phillips de Pury auction in Hong Kong, one of his pieces went for $159,000 (with fees), and another one made $230,000 at a charity gala in Capri, Italy.

Despite his monitor success, Andres’s parents ensure that he doesn’t lose his sense of childhood. His mother, Elsa, said in an interview, “My son is an artist, but he is a kid first,” later addingHe is a child, not a celebrity.” And it looks like Andres is not at risk of losing his childlike innocence and sensitivities while dealing with the inner workings of the art world. When asked about his artistic inspirations, he listed PicassoJean-Michel Basquiat, George Condo, and Pokémon Click N” Play army action figures.

| portraymag.com

A big part of the sales proceeds from Andres’s paintings goes towards charity. His parents believe that this huge success is a good opportunity for him to learn about giving back. According to the Valencias, more than $300,000 from Andres’s sales has been donated to the AIDS charity group amfAR and the children’s charity Box of Hope.

Source: The New York Times
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