Manolo Valdes (b. 1942)
Retrato I
signed, titled and dated ‘Manolo Valdes Retrato I 2018’ (on the reverse)
oil, mirror and fabric collage on burlap
56 x 37 in. (142 x 94 cm.)
Executed in 2018.
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
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Lot Essay

“Valdès takes possession of pictures of Plato’s cave: as many shapes, colours and textures as a work of plastic art has purely aesthetic components. Like a prodigious shoemaker, he modifies the way the history of art is usually viewed and sets up his own shop window, his pantheistc world. His magic consists of manipulating the icons of Titian, Matisse, Rembrandt and Manet by de-contextualising them, reactivating masterpieces”.
-Kosme de Barañano

Celebrated for his vivid reimagining of canonical art history, Manolo Valdés’ Retrato I is a vibrant example of the artist's practice. Throughout his career, Valdés has interpreted historical works from the Baroque to the surreal, reconfiguring these canvases according to his own visual idiom. The present work pays homage to the tradition of portrait painting. His closeup portrait is an exultation of the face, deftly outlined in inky black. It is a postmodern gesture to bring the past into the present, and by doing so, Valdés hopes to reanimate history within a contemporary frame; ‘I am just a narrator,’ he said, ‘who comments on the history of painting in various ways, using new materials: it is like a game that consists of changing the code and the key to the artwork… Many of my colours, materials and textures are the product of relived experiences of other masters. My painting involves much reflection’ (M. Valdés, quoted in Manolo Valdés 1981-2006, exh. cat., Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2006, p. 20).

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