Artist Manuel Valdés Blanco, known as Manolo Valdés (Valencia, 1942), boasts a long career that gets underway at the beginning of the Sixties. From 1964 onwards his work develops as a member of Equipo Crónica, to which the then Centro de Arte Reina Sofía dedicates an exhibition in 1989. The group, influenced by Pop Art, defines the Spanish Art of that period and represents a critique and lucid consideration of the relationship between art and society. After 1981, Valdés embarks on a fruitful solo career. Twenty-five years on, and for the first time in Spain, the Museo Reina Sofía presents a complete retrospective of this phase in his artistic output.
During the latter part of the century, Valdés has participated in dozens of exhibitions and has received multiple awards, such as the National Prize for Plastic Arts in 1983 and the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts in 1998, whilst also achieving international renown through his presence at art events such as the Venice Biennial.
Painting and sculpture form the core part of Valdés' artistic output, though he also ventures into graphic art. Classic works constitute the pretext for his aesthetic approaches, predominated by textures, subject matter, light, colour, the representation of the human body and the vigour contained in faces. His sculptures reflect a profound reflection on matter and space, often leading him to create monumental-sized pieces.
From a thematic perspective, he finds inspiration from past masters such as Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez, José de Ribera, Francisco de Zurbarán and Doménikos Theotokópoulos (El Greco), seldom concealing their models and even referring to them in the titles of his works. He is also concerned with image and moves everything incidental aside to ensure it becomes the focal point; thus he is able to produce striking colourist compositions with baroque influences, whereby surface and matter intertwine indissolubly.
The exhibition compiles Valdés' solo work through pieces from each of his creative phases - starting with his first individual exhibition in 1981 and ending with his later paintings and sculptures. It is also arranged around eight key themes: still-life, landscape, portrait, nudity, religion, the everyday, the work of Velázquez and the monumental, and in Valdés' work the theme of the individuality of the piece itself often predominates.