The affectionate embrace of Manolo Valdes’ monumental sculptures - GulfToday

The affectionate embrace of Manolo Valdes’ monumental sculptures

dib art 1

This sculpture is titled Mariposas.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

The Paris branch of Opera Gallery (based in Dubai at DIFC), one of the leading international dealers and representatives of Modern and Contemporary Art, is now hosting the works of Manolo Valdes, the internationally established Contemporary Spanish painter, sculptor and draughtsman.

Valdes’ works can also be seen at the gallery’s Virtual Viewing Room. Valdes’ ten sculptures are being presented all across George V Avenue (Oct. 15, 2020 – Jan. 15). The open air exhibition on the prestigious Parisian venue, is in celebration of the second edition of George V Monumental, organised by the Comité George V in partnership with Opera Gallery Paris. The exhibition is titled Monumental Egeries (French for Muse). Avenue George V is a street in the 8th arrondissement (administrative district) of Paris. It starts at Place de l’Alma, and ends at No. 99 aveneu des Champs-Elysees.


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It received its current name in honour of the British monarch George V, who was on the throne at the time, and fought with the Allies during First World War. Valdés’ works are designed as an ode to matter and to the female portrait genre. The delicate but gigantic icons, with their various colours and textures, seem to be in perfect dialogue with the avenue’s elegant sandstone Haussmann-style buildings. Whether it be his emblematic Meninas (a tribute to Velázquez), here in four different translucid colours reminiscent of precious stones, or his giant feminine heads bearing majestic crowns of butterflies or foliage, the monumental muses, sans doubt, enhance the enchantment of their surroundings. Aluminium, bronze, resin and stainless steel are shaped to redefine the portraiture of women. The stylised heads, adorned with crowns and headdresses, are women Muses. They seem caught in moments of total serenity.

Valdés’ sculptures offer a very human — and humane — perspective of monumental sculpture. They convey a perfect balance between line, colour, texture and scale. The artworks, despite their size, also are not in a relationship of power with the viewer. Though they tower over him, they spark a conversation; it results in an endless interaction between the sculpture, the viewer, and the environment.

The work is forceful and is decorated with historical art symbols. Image and matter are fused in compositions that wander between Pop Art and material art, between social and political commitment and a continuous search for reinvention.

Dib art 2 Infanta Margarita Violet by Manolo Valdes.

Valdés interprets the history of art, and pays tribute to great Classical masters such as Velázquez, El Greco, Picasso, Matisse, Brancusi … His Contemporary pieces are a bridge between history and our present. To celebrate the exhibition on Avenue George V, the artist specially designed a sculpture of Clio, the Ancient Muse of History, created after Sandro Botticelli’s own Clio. “Art of each era always gathers elements from the past; Art is a succession and an eternal addition,” says Valdés. “We build upon that which art history has placed in our hands.” He began his career as an artist in 1957, after being enrolled at the Institute of Fine Arts of San Carlo in Valencia, where he studied for two years, and met painter and artist, Rafael Solbes.   In 1964, Valéz, Solbes and painter Juan Antonio Toledo, founded Equipo Crónica, a Spanish manifestation of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. Participating in this group, Valdés was featured in more than 60 solo exhibitions.

His works from this period often expressed political commentary and were characterised by the use of unconventional materials and crudely applied paint. Most materials Valdés employs in his paintings can appear rough-hewn; however, the image’s evocation is always stately and elegant. After Solbes died in 1981, Valdés embarked on his solo career, continuing with the dialogue of the art history of the Equipo Crónica, but with a style that had become distinctly his own. It was centered on the appropriation and reinterpretation of masterpieces: the quintessence of his work.

By quoting figures from well-known works of art, he revitalised these familiar images by taking them out of their original contexts. Valdés creates large works in which the lighting and colours express a sensation of tactility. In both painting and sculpture, he inflates the figure’s size, abstracting form and minimising detail, while incorporating roughly applied paint and unusual materials.

Since 1992, he has focused his interests on sculpture and decided to open a larger studio in New York.  He introduced to Spain a form of expression that combined political and social obligations with humor and irony. He has been influenced by Velazquez, Rembrandt, Rubens, Matisse, Picasso, among others.  Throughout his long career, Valdés has never stopped investigating and reinventing Art, with an insatiable appetite for conceptual and plastic experimentation. The result is unanimous critical acclaim and recognition from a growing public for his works that can be found in the great museums of the world. His works are included in numerous public and private collections including the de Young Museum of San Francisco; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany; Menil Foundation, Houston, Texas and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. His iconic sculptures are exhibited outdoors in the parks and gardens of major cities such as the New York Botanical Gardens, Hofgarten, Dusseldorf and Chatsworth House, UK.


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