One of the most original and prolific Spanish Contemporary artists, Manolo Valdés draws subjective inspiration from art-historical motifs. Using his own immensely personal and visual language to skilfully play tribute to many of the Old Masters, Valdés uses their work as a pretext to create an entirely new aesthetic object through which to examine ideas of cultural inheritance and aesthetic continuity. His approach to art is to focus not on the subject, but on the way art is created; for Valdés, the subject is simply the first step. Throughout his career, Valdés has explored his artistic practice through a variety of materials and medium, achieving a rawness and tangible quality in his art that is both powerful and evocative.
In this magnificent example, Valdés draws his subject from the Infanta Margarita figure in Diego Velázquez's multi-layered masterpiece Las Meninas, executed in 1656. By focusing the subject of his artwork on this solitary figure and thus removing her from her historical context, Valdés creates a completely new and purely formal approach to this iconic figure, eliminating all anecdotes; her regal surroundings and her Meninas, concentrating solely on the image. It is not therefore a mere mirroring of Velásquez' iconic Infanta, but rather a confrontation with it; a discovery of new possibilities and approaches. Infanta Magarita in its monumental scale cannot help but affect its surroundings and in doing creates a dialogue with them. Despite its monumental size, however, there remains an underlining fragility and femininity in this sculpture which remains powerful and rather arresting. By augmenting the figure's scale and minimizing details, especially to her face, Valdés creates an abstract expressionism which further places the subject into a modern setting. Through Infanta Magarita, we see Valdés' continuous exploration with material. The artist uses a welding process to fuse the bronze elements of the sculpture together, leaving surface irregularities and imperfections visible, which emphasizes the importance to him of an expressive and experimental process.
Infanta Magarita has become universally recognized as one of Manolo Valdés' most iconic works. This particular work has traveled extensively around the world and is a true reflection of Valdes' artistic endeavours.
"Velásquez as a point of reference has always been the testing ground for Valdés' paraphrases. Each new research effort has been carried out on the fallow land of Velásquez's figures [...] Valdés falls back on Velásquez's work time and again to move forward with his own imagery." (Kosme de Baraño cited in: Exhibition Catalouge, Ministère de Culture, Las Tres Dimensiones en Valdés, Paris 2005, p. 15)
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