When Andres Valencia starts scribbling at school, his friends gather round to watch.
And they are not the only ones who have noticed his talent. The 10-year-old has the art world buzzing with excitement as Andres makes his global auction* debut* this month.
The Californian art prodigy* first picked up a paintbrush when he was five and now sells his pieces for tens of thousands of dollars.
He uses a stepladder to create his larger works and his talent was spotted early by his parents, Guadalupe, a 50-year-old lawyer, and Elsa, a 47-year-old psychologist* and jewellery designer.
They encouraged his work, which is influenced by Pablo Picasso* and cubism*, but just want him to enjoy painting.
“To be quite honest, we try not to talk too much about it in front of him,” Mr Valencia said. “We certainly don’t refer to him as a prodigy or anything like that. We just keep it simple with him. At home, he just does his art.
“So I don’t think that he knows the magnitude* of what the art world and people think about it.”
Mr Valencia said that he and his wife had resisted calls to homeschool their son so that he could focus more on painting.
“We want him to go to school like a normal kid,” he said. “And because he’s 10, it’s not like a lot of artists, they go to work for six, eight, 10 hours a day painting.
“So he paints after school and on the weekends, but he also plays with his friends.”
Andres earned global recognition at Miami Art Week last December. Jordan Belfort, the former trader* whose life story was made into the Hollywood film The Wolf of Wall Street, bought one of his paintings, as did the actor Sofia Vergara.
Art Miami director Nick Korniloff said that experts were impressed before they knew Andres’ age.
“I’ve been doing this for 21 years,” Mr Korniloff said. “And this was, without a doubt, the most incredible interaction I’ve had with an artist and experience with a collecting audience inside an art fair.
“We’ve had everybody attend our shows, all great celebrities and personalities. But this little 10-year-old boy brought down the house.”
Andres is not afraid of heavy subjects. Inspired by Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece* Guernica*, he created a painting depicting the horrors of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Korniloff was reluctant to predict what the primary school student’s work may be worth to future investors but was confident it would endure*.
“The work holds the wall just as good as anything else I’ve seen in a long career,” he said.
This story was originally published by The Times as is reprinted here with permission.
- auction: public sale where goods or property are sold to bidder who offers the most money
- debut: public performance or presentation or something for the first time
- prodigy: genius, wunderkind, gifted child
- psychologist: specialist in treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioural disorders
- Pablo Picasso: (1881-1973) a prolific Spanish artist, Picasso remains one of the most significant artists of all time
- cubism: 20th century art style abstract structure at the expense of other pictorial elements
- magnitude: size, enormity, breadth, vastness, scale
- trader: person or business that buys and sells – in this case stocks
- masterpiece: grand achievement, work of exceptional skill, triumph
- Guernica: town in northern Spain, scene of a terrible 1937 attack by German bombers
- How old was Andres when he first took up a paintbrush and how old is he now?
- Which famous artist’s work has inspired Andres?
- Which art fair in what year earned Andres global recognition?
- Which masterpiece influenced Andres’ painting about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
- How much does Andres currently sell his work for ahead of his first auction?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Art on Ukrainian crisis
Research Andres’ piece on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. What elements can you see?
Write what emotions this artwork evokes in you when you look at it.
Do you think this could become a famous painting over time?
What do you like or not like about Andres’ style of painting?
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Visual Arts
Andres is only 10-years-old. What do you think his future might look like?
Would you like to be a talented artist like Andres?
Do you think his parents are doing the right thing letting him go to school rather than studying painting at home?
Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Critical and Creative Thinking
Imagine you were there during the event being discussed in the article, or for the interview.
Create a conversation between two characters from the article – you may need or want to include yourself as one of the characters. Don’t forget to try to use facts and details from the article to help make your dialogue as realistic as possible.
Go through your writing and highlight any punctuation you have used in green. Make sure you carefully check the punctuation used for the dialogue and ensure you have opened and closed the speaking in the correct places.