The National Archaeological Museum of Naples, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Contini Art Gallery, presents a solo exhibition by the master Manolo Valdés from 27 September 2023 to 6 January 2024. The famous Spanish artist exhibits for the first time in Naples and Southern Italy. It is the majestic Salone della Meridiana, once called the Gran Salone, which hosts his sculptures in its large and bright spaces. "Nothing gives me more pleasure than having works exhibited in an archaeological museum. For me, art began when humanity produced its first images. Archeology gives us the opportunity to trace the path of all the representations created to date" is the message from Manolo Valdés. "We are happy to host a personality like Manolo at MANN Valdés, an event that follows the exhibition "Picasso and the Ancient" as in an ideal relay race. The exhibition presents itself as a fortunate opportunity that increasingly enriches the dialogue of the National Archaeological Museum with contemporary Spanish culture. A natural bond that has its roots in the history of Naples since the very birth, at the end of 1500, of the Palazzo degli Studi which later became a museum, whose genesis as is known is linked to the Vesuvian excavations commissioned by Charles III of Bourbon, later King of Spain" recalls the director of MANN Paolo Giulierini.
The artist's Iberian origins are well traceable in his production: Valdés draws masterfully from the Spanish artistic heritage, in particular from Velázquez and Picasso, and from the informal art of his immediate predecessors. The artist stands out for his innovative research capable of combining quotes from the history of art in a contemporary key, readjusted with great naturalness and transparency, in a continuous dialogue between past and present. With the desire to continue a trend and fit into the flow of art, Valdés adds and layers new meanings to forms and figures of history. The grandiose spaces of the Salone della Meridiana host ten "Reina Mariana" and a monumental "Infanta Margarita", works that they give plastic body to some of Velázquez's very famous subjects. These are cast bronze versions of the portraits painted by Velázquez of Maria Anna of Austria and Margaret Maria Theresa of Habsburg respectively. These iconographies were reworked so often by Manolo Valdés that they became a distinctive feature of his art. From these masterpieces the Maestro develops a new and unexplored visual language.
He forges the material by changing our perception of images which, traditionally painted, now take on a new identity in our shared culture. Due to the particularity of the artist's vision and creative approach, Valdés' works blend very happily with the host reality. The context of the MANN, in fact, allows us to further enhance the comparison with the art of the past by creating a juxtaposition that highlights the research and experiments of the new with the elegance and tradition of the ancient. The mutual celebration is sealed by the historic exchange that distinguishes the relationship between the city and the Iberian reality, homeland of the Maestro. This bond has its roots in the history of Naples. And Naples welcomes the plastic and geometrized bodies of Valdés's eleven works which, with their lacerations and imperfections of the material, are emblematic of the passage of time and of the dialogue with the art of the past. Biography Manolo Valdés was born in Valencia, Spain, in 1942. Apprentice painter at the age of 15, he attended the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts in Valencia. In 1962 he participated in the National Exhibition of Fine Arts, presenting the work Barca (now at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) in which the constant elements of his painting are already evident: the figurative theme and the informal use of the matter. However, during his years of study, during a trip to Paris, he discovered the visual and artistic freedom of Pierre Soulages and Robert Rauschenberg. He embarked on his career which found one of its first expressions in 1964, in the co-foundation of the Equipo Crónica group, a pioneering collective of Spanish Pop Art where, together with Juan Antonio Toledo and Rafael Solbes, he was able to combine creative experimentation and political criticism.
Following this experience, which lasted until 1981, he began to hold his personal exhibitions. He focuses especially on the rereading of artistic and historical themes without provocative references, with the creation of his own creative universe through creativity combined with the study of materials. Winner, among many, of the Nacional de Bellas Artes España award, his creations have been the subject of numerous national and international exhibitions. In 2007 he was also awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Merit by the President of the French Republic. Manolo Valdés' works can be found in numerous public and private collections, including: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Center George Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Fundación del Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain; Valencian Institute of Modern Art, Center Julio Gonzalez, Valencia, Spain; Kunstmuseum, Berlin, Germany; Veranneman Foundation, Kruishoutem, Belgium, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China, Les Terrasses du Casino, Monte Carlo, Monaco and many others. Since 2016 he has collaborated with the Contini Art Gallery which represents him exclusively for Italy. He currently lives and works between Madrid and New York.