11-Year-Old ‘Little Picasso’ From Mexico Sells Paintings For Over $100K
Mexican artist Andres Valencia isn’t your average painter. His piece “Invasion of Ukraine” has been compared to a modern-day “Guernica,” nicknaming him Little Picasso. He had a solo show at the acclaimed Art Miami, sells his paintings for six figures, and counts Sofia Vergara as a fan. One more surprising detail? He’s only 11 years old.
BBC reports that the child prodigy was the “center of attention” at Art Miami, becoming the youngest artist to ever show their work at the fair. Moreover, gallery owner Bernie Chase told the outlet that Valencia’s art usually sells for around $150,000.
Although Valencia was born in 2011, people often compare his work to geniuses from another time, including Picasso. Other influences? The artist says his wide-range of inspirations include Jean-Michel Basquiat, George Condo, Pokémon, and even Click N’ Play army action figures.
Valencia got his start sketching at 4 years old
His father Guadalupe is a lawyer, while his mother Elsa is a clinical therapist and jewelry designer — both have Mexican roots and are based in San Diego. Valencia’s parents first noticed his skills when he was 4 years old, when he would sketch other artists’ paintings.
Elsa told ABC her son’s skills are “self-taught.”
She also described how his painting “Invasion of Ukraine” about the Russo-Ukrainian War shook her emotionally. She explained, “When I walked in I saw a small 12-inch by 9-inch canvas sketched and colored with marker… I was absolutely moved.”
Meanwhile, the artist’s father, Lupe, told My Modern Met that they “would watch him paint and do sketches” when he was 4 or 5. He said, “we were really surprised at what he would do.”
While the parents didn’t know if they just liked his work out of love for their child, it eventually “got more sophisticated and evolved.”
Still, Elsa told New York Times they still want to give him a regular childhood. She asserted, “My son is an artist, but he is a kid first… He is a child, not a celebrity.”
A family friend discovered his talent — and betted on him
So how did Valencia go from practicing sketching in his living room to selling six-figure paintings at art fairs?
Art gallery owner Bernie Chase was a family friend, and often visited them in San Diego. Valencia sold his art to loved ones for $20, but Chase paid $100, immediately struck by his talent. One day, the artist raised his price to $5,000 — and Chase agreed to pay it.
Chase immediately made calls and offered the boy a solo show at Art Miami. Dad Lupe explains, “When Bernie Chase, who now represents Andres, came over when he was 6 or 7, he decided to represent him. He told us that Andres is going to be an important artist.”
He was right: today, stars like Diane Keaton, Channing Tatum, Tommy Mottola, Thalia, Sofia Vergara, and BTS singer V all own his works. Valencia has sold-out his paintings at both Art Miami and a solo exhibit at NYC’s Chase Contemporary in June. At the latter, his 35 paintings were all sold for $50,000 to $125,000.
Valencia’s perspective on his budding career
And what does Andres think about all of this? He told the New York Post, “I’m so happy to sell my paintings. I’m not emotionally attached because I know I can always make another one.”
He also told the outlet his process is decidedly relaxed. “I paint in little pieces… I work on it for an hour or two. Then I go do something else. I come back to it the next day and keep adding more.”
This makes sense — he does go to school after all, plays with his friends, and collects G.I. Joe action figures… just like an average kid.
About Andres, Art Miami executive director Nick Korniloff said he’s “never witnessed someone this young so talented.”
That being said, his mother still tells BBC they want him to “go to school, study music, play the piano… go to his friends to the park.”
Elsa also explains they were “not born into wealth,” and that she also worked as “a social worker for many years.”
She realizes they are “very fortunate,” which is exactly why they have donated more than $300,000 of Valencia’s sales to charity.