The eclectic, prolific Spanish painter, sculptor and draughtsman, Manolo Valdes, was born in Valencia, Spain in 1942. He attended the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos de Valencia and began his career in the 1960s when he joined a group of fellow artists to find the artistic and political collective, Equipo Cronica. The central aim of this fellowship was to harness the power of art – primarily “Pop Art” –- to challenge the suppressive regime of Spanish Dictator General Franco.
The choice of “Pop Art,” in retrospect, makes perfect sense for this group as its artistic guiding light. Its use of exuberant color; tongue-in-cheek teetering between the celebration of, yet also mocking of Western commercialism- and its overarching humor, were the perfect artistic antidote to the drab (real and metaphorical) zeitgeist of Franco’s colorless, humorless Spain.
Valdes and his compatriots bravely challenged the iron-grip of fear that the dictator had imposed on their native home, a country celebrated for hundreds of years as a cultural mecca, a Mediterranean idyll, and a place that had produced some of the world’s greatest artists. From operating in a unique locale, where freedom of expression was valued, not curtailed.
A multi-talented artist, Valdes is now considered one of the leading Spanish modern artists in the world and has been honored with a myriad of awards and high-profile exhibitions including xxx
Utilizing a myriad of references, styles and techniques, Valdes’s work borrows from Old Masters including Rubens and Fra Angelico – as well as more Modern such as Matisse, Picasso, and Lichtenstein. His series of abstract, angular faces, for example, are clearly influenced by the work of compatriot, Pablo Picasso, as well as Amedeo Modigliani and Georges Braque’s.
Valdes’s journey towards a mature and unique style has been a life-long journey in experimentation, and a search for inspiration in the work of artists who went before him. Valdes’ technique – in both medium and composition – stems from his desire to take figures and subjects from the work of “master” artists and create new contexts for them.
Taking figures from the original works, Valdes then “abstracts” them, minimizing detail – incorporates roughly applied paint – and finally “textures” them with unusual, found objects.
His aim is to both honor the experts whose work he references, yet not be intimidated by them. Although they serve as his launching point, once he begins his transformations, he playfully and boldly meanders between styles: Pop Art, material art and figurative abstraction, until he arrives at a result that is both technically and artistically his own – and that expresses his ongoing social and political concerns.
Valdes currently lives and works between homes in Madrid, Spain and New York, New York
Visit The Foundation
If you are interested in visiting the RAK foundation and its collection, we would be happy to show you around. Contact us for more information.