Valentin Leonida (Valle) is a Bucharest-born 3D modeler and illustrator whose characters haunt imaginations. In his most recent series, “Heads,” Valle created five images revealing the interior of the human face as it makes emotional expressions. Titled “No.1 Rhinocerus (after Dürer),” “No.2 Melancholia,” “No. 3 Restless,” “No. 4 Concentration,” and “No. 5 Serpent Mind,” the drawings and their evocative labels prompt curiosity. One wonders if the furrowed tension in “Concentration” is revealed on one’s own face, or if the emotional state is only made visible when Valle’s golden medical contraption pulls back the skin like a veil.
Other characters by Valle occupy similar grotesque realities, as do “Heads.” A droopy eyed Mrs. Claus looks away from the viewer in casual suspicion; a wide-eyed, gapped-tooth “Kawstitch” (after Chris Sanders’ “Stitch” from the Disney Cartoon) has an alien-sensibility that when depicted in 3D, loses the innocence of Sanders’ 2D version; and a “Robo” toy, whose energy clock errs on half-full, stares into the distance with eyes at half mast. Each created with a discernable and distinct personality, Valle’s characters are united by a tinge of wary experience, antithetical to the viewer’s expectations of the familiar figures.