Created in 2012, Perfil de Dama con Marco takes inspiration from some of the great artists of the past – from Rembrandt to Rubens, Velázquez to Van Eyck. Further, the defined profile of the female protagonist, her light-toned complexion, and sophisticated headpiece, are reminiscent of the motif of Johannes Vermeer’s 1665 masterpiece Girl with a Pearl Earring. Employing his own immensely personal and visual language to skilfully pay tribute to these Old Masters, Valdés uses their work as a pretext to create an entirely new aesthetic. In the present work, by augmenting the figure’s scale and minimising facial details, the artist creates an abstract expression which places the subject into a modern setting. Valdés has explained the connection to his prominent art paragons, “When I touch on historical painters, I make comments based on the specificity of my language and not on that of literature or poetry. I am just a narrator 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 refection” (Manolo Valdés cited in: Exh. Cat., Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Manolo Valdés: 1981-2006, 2006, pp. 20-21).
The vibrancy emanating from Perfil de Dama con Marco is characteristic of Valdés’ highly personal creative oeuvre. His portraiture actively addresses issues ranging from representation and appropriation to heritage, style, and tradition. In the present work, the artist’s original and technical skill are immediately apparent; the diverse media, large-scale composition and direct concern with art historical subject matter. All confirming Valdés’ status as one of the great masters of contemporary Spanish art.
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