‘Valdés’ by Manolo Valdés at Anima Gallery and interview with the artist

Anima Gallery announced the debut of ‘Valdés,’ a solo exhibition spotlighting the works of Manolo Valdés. From May 8th to June 8th, 2024, visitors can visit this showcase at Marsa Arabia St Regis, The Pearl, Doha, Qatar.

We’ve asked Manolo Valdés a few questions:

⁠Your work often involves revisiting and reinterpreting iconic artworks from the past. What draws you to this process of appropriation, and how do you balance homage with your artistic expression?

Manolo Valdes, Reina Mariana Aquamarine, 2022 Chrystalline Resin Edition 2/8 117 x 82 x 61 cm Anima Gallery
Manolo Valdes, Reina Mariana Aquamarine, 2022 Chrystalline Resin Edition 2/8 117 x 82 x 61 cm

I engage with art history. I select a piece that captures my interest, such as the Reina Mariana by Velazquez from the 17th century, and I enlarge it to 2 or 3 meters. In this exercise, I draw inspiration from Pop Art, which has empowered me to work on a larger scale. When I incorporate textural paint, it’s because those who came before me demonstrated that it was acceptable. If I depict more than two eyes or hands, I draw from Picasso’s example, who showed that such experimentation was permissible. If paint drips accidentally onto the canvas, it’s alright because Pollock did it too. As a result, I infuse the chosen artwork with my interpretation and style.

⁠Your pieces often blur the lines between painting and sculpture, incorporating unusual materials and techniques. Could you speak to the significance of this fusion of mediums in your practice?

After completing the painting of the Reina Mariana referenced earlier, I realise there is still much more I want to express. So, I decided to create a sculpture inspired by the painting. I explore various materials such as bronze, aluminium, marble, glass, and resin, among others, to add depth and richness to my commentary. From drawing Reina Mariana to making an etching and painting her, I continue to contemplate ways to amplify my artistic expression. This method of working exemplifies my approach to all the paintings and images I choose to work on. Much like the impressionists who set up their easels in nature, I prefer to visit places like the Metropolitan or the Prado and set up my easel in front of the masterpieces there.

Why do you incorporate holes and scratches into your sculptures, and stitches and tears into your paintings? What message or meaning do you intend to convey through these deliberate marks and alterations in your artwork?

MANOLO VALDES Retrato I, 2018 Oil, mirror and fabric collage on burlap 142 x 94 cm Anima Gallery
Manolo Valdes, Retrato I, 2018 Oil, mirror and fabric collage on burlap 142 x 94 cm

The holes and textures in my work are influenced by artists like Tapies, Burri, or Fontana, who showed me their techniques. Every time I start a new piece, I draw upon the wealth of knowledge that art history has imparted to me, empowering my creative process. Cultural imagery shapes my worldview profoundly: I appreciate apples more because of Cezanne’s portrayal, find deeper meaning in sunflowers through Van Gogh’s eyes, am captivated by the ocean waves thanks to Sorolla’s interpretations, and drawn to the majestic skies as depicted by Friedrich. In essence, I perceive the world through the lens that art history has provided me.

You’ve exhibited your sculptures in outdoor spaces around the world, integrating them into the landscapes of major cities. How does the environment influence the way viewers interact with your artwork when displayed outdoors?

Displaying my work outdoors offers a uniquely stimulating experience compared to the controlled environment of a museum or gallery. In such public spaces, the audience is diverse and encounters the artwork unintentionally. Unlike visitors to a gallery who intentionally seek out exhibitions, those who stumble upon outdoor installations may not even realise they are viewing a piece inspired by Reina Mariana. Moreover, observing how the surrounding environment influences the artwork adds another layer of intrigue. Whether it’s amidst the luminous nights of St. Petersburg, the elegance of Place Vendome in Paris, the lush Botanical Gardens of New York and Singapore, or the rugged Arizona desert, each setting imbues the pieces with a distinct character. The interplay of weather elements like rain or snow further enriches the viewing experience, revealing how different environments can alter perceptions of the artwork. Additionally, the diverse reactions and opinions of passersby contribute to the dynamic nature of exhibiting outdoors, fostering a deeper appreciation for the varied perspectives that art evokes.

Manolo Valdes, Asteria, 2020 Aluminium Edition: 3/8 76.2 x 61 x 48.3 cm Anima Gallery
Manolo Valdes, Asteria, 2020 Aluminium Edition: 3/8 76.2 x 61 x 48.3 cm

About Manolo Valdés

Born in Valencia, Spain, in 1942, Manolo Valdés rose as a towering figure in the art realm, captivating global audiences with his body of work. Since his formative years at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de San Carlos in 1957, Valdés has continuously challenged conventions, offering incisive critiques of societal norms while engaging with art history.

Through reimaginings of masterpieces by the likes of Velázquez, Picasso, and Matisse, Valdés sparkes a dialogue between past and present defying temporal boundaries. His sculptures are displayed in public spaces worldwide.

Valdes is the recipient of awards such as the Premio Nacional de Bellas Artes and was represented at the Biennale di Venezia. His works are housed in several collections like the MoMA in New York and the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

Location: Marsa Arabia St Regis, The Pearl, Doha, Qatar.
Dates: May 8th to June 8th, 2024.



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