More than any other artist, Velázquez has served as a point of reference and inspiration for Valdés. Of the masterpiece Las Meninas, Valdés has said: “Indeed, I feel a great fascination for this painting…It is an image that I can instantly relate to different motives, a subconscious motivation that may resemble a bell or other similar analogue images. Now, however, I no longer tried to limit myself in that aspect, but Las Meninas is an image that continues to interest me and, for me, provides great strength” (Manolo Valdés cited in: Exh. Cat., Barcelona, Fundació la Caixa, Manolo Valdés in Barcelona: Esculturas Monumentales, 2008, pp. 109-12). Perhaps what captivates Valdés about the infanta Margarita is her unreadable expression, translated in Menina as a faceless figure. The tactility of the marble surface with its cracks and crevices responds to the intangibility of the infanta’s emotional state.
Valdés serves as a translator of art history, reinterpreting old masterpieces into a language understood by contemporary audiences to create a dialogue between past and present that breathes new life and understanding into our cultural experience. While the life-size scale and technical mastery of Menina is enough to secure Valdés' place as a master of contemporary Spanish art, it is his ability to reconsider the past for the present age that confirms it.
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