Manolo Valdes

Manolo Valdés was born in Valencia in 1942 and is one of the most well-known modern Spanish painters, sculptors, and draughtsmen. Beginning his training as a painter at the age of 15, he eventually enrolled at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos de Valencia, in Spain, in1964. During his time there, he came upon the works of Pierre Soulages and Robert Rauschenberg. It was then that he discovered that the artist didn't necessarily require a paintbrush to paint.

He went on to start his career in the 1960s as a founding member of Equipo Cronica, a group of artists who used Pop Art as inspiration to oppose both the History of Art and the Franco regime in Spain. The group dissolved in 1981 as they witnessed the advent of democracy, and Valdes slowly took out political messaging from his work. He continued his artistic investigation focusing on the appropriation and reworking of his art. He now splits his time between New York City and Madrid, Spain, where he currently resides and works.

Manolo Valdés has created a distinctive style that analyses history without deviating from the main topic. By removing the figures from their original context, Valdés revitalises these well-known images from well-known works of art by twentieth-century masters like Matisse, Picasso, and Lichtenstein, as well as old masters like Velázquez, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Fra Angelico. He exaggerates the scale of the body, abstracts form, minimises detail, and uses a lot of sloppy paint application and strange materials in both paintings and sculptures.

His inspirations come from visiting museums, observing paintings and even real-life objects in a way they have been interpreted through art. He says, “I like sunflowers because Van Gogh painted them, and I only like apples if they look like Cezanne’s apples! I might even like a person more if they look like a painting that I’ve seen and like. It really is just painting in general that influences me.” He is also known to be influenced by literary commentary on art as he seeks to gain further knowledge on how different people perceive art. His works are characterised by the timeless nature of the picture as the centre of the visual experience. His body of work meanders between Pop Art and material art, between social and political commitment and a constant desire for reinvention. Image and matter are linked in his works.

Creations by Manolo Valdés’ have been showcased in numerous exhibitions. In New York only, the artist has presented his works in more than sixty solo exhibitions. They are also housed in collections of prestigious museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Young Museum, San Francisco; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain. The artist has also been commissioned to create large-scale public sculptures in various parts of the world, including Park Avenue, New York; Place Vendôme, Paris and Château de Chambord, Loire Valley.

Through the course of his career, the artist has been recognised with several awards, including the National Award for the Fine Arts in Spain, the Alfons Oig Award in Valencia, and an award by the Bridgestone Art Museum, in Lisbon. In 1993, he was also conferred with the Medal of the Order of Andrés Bello in Venezuela. ;

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