Manolo Valdés – Recent Works

Manolo Valdés | Recent Works


Manolo Valdés, Constructivismo como Pretexto II, 2022 Bois polychromé, 110,5 x 97,8 x 50,8 cm

Manolo Valdés | Recent Works


15 September – 13 October, 2022

Opera Gallery is pleased to present “Manolo Valdés – Recent Works”, a monographic exhibition focused on the recent production of painter and sculptor Manolo Valdés – one of the most important Spanish artists on the contemporary art scene.

The exhibition transports us to the world of Manolo Valdés and his iconic figures, such as the heads with butterfly-adorned headdresses and the famous hat-wearing women. Botticelli’s figure of Clio, whose oval face is set among a geometry of flowers and beams, has certainly influenced the artist, Valdés actualizes this ancient muse – an inexhaustible source of inspiration – by putting her in conversation with various periods of art history. Since the late 1970s, Valdés has transcended his iconoclastic art to transform his work into a true homage to the material. The extremely pure faces, basic lines, and the color’s predominance over the form, reveal and demonstrate the artist’s talent and ability to navigate between figuration and abstraction. The figures, which radiate a sense of lightness, appear to float where lines, leading to the sky, encourage elevation.

The choice of subjects in Valdés is a clear reference to the modern period of art history, while the aesthetics of the geometry of half moons and squares give the work a contemporary touch. References to Constructivism and Kasimir Malévitch are evident in his recent work Constructivismo como Pretexto II, 2021 in which we can see a head surmounted by two squares on either side. For Valdés, this figure favored by Malévitch is a scientific form that is not natural but universal, a figure that allows others forms to be elaborated or constructed starting from it. The Spanish artist also uses the characteristic colors of Constructivism, white, red and black, the latter reserved for the emblematic figure of the square, where white symbolizes space. With this new series Valdés intends to work with new references, more modern and abstract than his classical inspirations, which include Velázquez, with his famous Ménines, and Matisse with his collages.

Manolo Valdés, Clio Plateada, 2020, Polished Nnaval aluminium and Chrome stainless s teel 78x125x72 Cm / 30,7x49,2x28,3 In
Manolo Valdés, Matisse como Pretexto en Rosa 2021 Oil on burlap 195.6 x 381 cm | 77 x 150 in

Visitors will also be invited to experience the exhibition outside the gallery walls, thanks to Opera Gallery’s collaboration with the Bristol, located a short walk from the gallery on rue du Faubourg Saint- Honoré. Four sculptures will be on display in the renowned Parisian hotel: two in the lobby, one at the entrance to the Épicure restaurant, and one on the terrace of one of the suites (this work will be not accessible to the public).

Represented by Opera Gallery since 2015, Manolo Valdés (born 1942) is particularly known for his unique way of drawing inspiration from art history and his singular approach to forms, colors, materials, and textures. Recognized as one of the leading artists of the contemporary scene, he has been exploring and revisiting the classics of art history for nearly 60 years, rightfully placing his work in the wake of the great masters who preceded him.

Manolo Valdés Infanta Margarita,2019 Aluminium 30,5x20,3x15,2 Cm / 12x8x6 In
Manolo Valdés Reina Mariana, 2019, Resin with pigment 173x123x87 Cm | 68,1x48,4x34,3 In

Manolo Valdés

After enrolling in the San Carlos School of Fine Arts in Valencia in 1957, where he met his future comrades of the Equipo Crónica collective, the young Valdés started his career as a painter. With the group Estampa Popular, Valdés used his art to criticize the dictatorship and art history. In 1964 he exhibited at the 16th Salon de la Jeune Peinture organized in Paris by Arroyo, Aillaud and Recalcati. Together with his two friends Rafael Solbes and Joan Antoni Toledo, he decides to form Equipo Crónica, whose aesthetic orientation was decidedly narrative in an era dominated by informal art and expressionism. The Spanish artists looked back then to American Pop Art, whose codes they adopted, but giving them a completely different dimension. Through the participation in numerous exhibitions, the collective acquired a reputation that transcended the borders of Spain.

“We had a very different challenge in front of us, because we were dealing with a very different political situation than the American artists. So for us, pop was a way to engage in a political battle, but also to go out and oppose the dominant artistic trends associated with the Informal” the artist said in September 2015.

The death of his friend Solbes in 1981 led to the dissolution of the collective, and Manolo Valdés pursued a solo career. From a fine connoisseur of art history, he became an “explorer”, now revisiting the masterpieces of the past. With Diego Velázquez he tackles the mysteries of the Ménines; with Pablo Picasso he echoes the geometry of the Cubists; with Henri Matisse he pays homage to the first Fauvist painting entitled Woman with Hat; and with Jan Van Eyck he reinterprets the genius of color and light through the self-portrait Man with Red Turban. In a few brush strokes, Valdés captures the lines and contours of an iconic image and thus revisits our classics in an almost obsessive way, giving them a touch of unprecedented modernity.

Manolo Valdes in his New York Studio , © Manolo Valdés , Courtesy the Artist

The figure of Velázquez’s Queen Mariana, with which the artist was already familiar from the days of Equipo Crónica, became a leitmotif. “What I enjoy most is repeating the same image and transforming it. A single creation is not enough to tell the whole story. As in photography, several shots are needed to tell a story”, the artist said in an interview with Le Figaro (May 2006).

From New York, where he has lived since 1990, Valdés still creates powerful works, experimenting and using unusual materials with expressive textures, which he has now mastered to perfection, such as jute, folded, sewn or smeared with paints or various materials such as tar. In Valdés, the strength of the symbol is matched by the harshness of the materials: all it takes is an eyebrow or the bridge of a nose to evoke a masterpiece of the past, to which is added, thanks to Valdés, a new modernity. The result is highly aesthetic and of great formal relevance. In 1984 the artist received the Fine Arts Award and a year later the Spanish Painting Medal.
In 1999 he represented Spain at the Venice Biennale. Painting is no longer his only medium; Valdés turned also to sculpture, which now occupies an important place in his oeuvre, as demonstrated by his 2002 exhibition at the Guggenheim in Bilbao. The field of the monumental in public space attracts him equally. In 2016, Place Vendôme in Paris hosted five monumental figures by Valdés celebrating the beauty of women. Although Manolo Valdés prefers wood for his sculptures, he also works in bronze, brass, alabaster, and marble. The artist is now exhibited in galleries internationally, he is also part of major museum collections: the MoMA and MET in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Kunstmuseum in Berlin, and the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid

Opera Gallery

Located at 62 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris’s Golden Triangle, Opera Gallery, a modern and contemporary art gallery founded in 1994 by Gilles Dyan, now has a network of fourteen art galleries around the world: in Paris, London, Munich, Geneva, New York, Miami, Aspen, Dubai, Beirut, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Seoul. Directed by Marion Petitdidier, the Paris gallery offers a permanent selection of works by modern, postwar and contemporary artists-Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet, Alexander Calder, Pierre Soulages, Manolo Valdés, Georg Baselitz, etc. – as well as monographic, group and thematic exhibitions to an audience of art lovers and collectors, both private and public.

Manolo Valdés | Recent works

September 15 – October 13, 2022

Opening 15 September from 6.30 pm

Opera Gallery, Paris

62, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris


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