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Childs Artistic Creativity Displayed

By Fritz Elmendorf

Mael Victory von der Weid, at age eight, could easily be described as an artistic prodigy, as the new exhibition of his canvases might lead one to believe. Since discovering his talent at age four, he has painted more than 200 canvases and has recently turned to sculpture, with “The Egg”, a meticulously balanced work of found ceramics, his centerpiece.

But what if we all possess such creativity, or at least had it before age and formal education buried it? Could this have happened to Mael as well? It was certainly his good fortune that family friend Carlos Valenzuela, an artist himself, saw something in some photographs taken by the four-year-old that made him think that the child had a gifted perspective.

All children look at the world through fresh eyes and open minds, but Mael’s fortune was to be given the encouragement, the tools and the training to open the pathway to artistic expression. Valenzuela recognized something that perhaps only another artist can see, and understood it well enough to know how to seed it and let it grow.

“When I saw the photos,” taken by the four-year-old, “I saw an artist. I asked him if he wanted to paint,” said Valenzuela, who is a landscape architect as well as a painter.

Mael’s mother Martine Vaillard had recently purchased acrylics, brushes and paper for her own foray into painting, but they were quickly consumed by the hungry child. Valenzuela provided technical instruction in brushwork, and certainly doting encouragement, but stood aside as creativity quickly found its own expression.  “The two were like two children together,” marveled Mael’s father Thierry Von der Weid.


That expression continued to flow forth, unimpeded by formal training, although Thierry and Martine took him to art exhibits in European and U.S. museums where he developed an eye for what he likes, as well as what bores him. A favorite artist is Miro, after visiting the Miro museum in Barcelona, and Mael’s “False Miro” clearly shows how he absorbed the Spanish surrealist’s style. He has been drawn to and inspired by other artists of complex and groundbreaking styles, such as the gritty urban expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat. 

While absorbing the influences of other artists, Mael’s work shows a complexity that begs the viewer to look for deeper images. And while there is a maturity clearly beyond his age, there is also a childlike innocence to behold.

His paintings are all done at one sitting lasting an hour or two, entirely while he’s happy and not tired, and when he puts his name on it, it’s finished.

His father appears to take it in stride and says that his son’s muse could go as easily and quickly as it came. But to the contrary, Mael has a new-found interest in sculpture, sparked when the family visited their Swiss friend Dominique Schmit, a sculptress and multi-media artist, who gave him tools and pieces of Italian soapstone to sculpt.

Having spent more than a year assembling “The Egg,” a piece that can never be moved from his studio on the second floor of the MiniMall above Banco Popular, it would appear that Mael’s artistic passion will continue to evolve into ever more creative directions.


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