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The Patty & Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art presents Manolo Valdés
Manolo Valdés, Desnudo Azul, 2005 Mixed media on canvas 90.6 x 67.3 inches © Manolo Valdés, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York.

NAPLES, FL.- The Patty & Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art celebrates its 12th season in 2011-12 with a spectacular, wide-ranging line-up featuring work by Edgar Degas, Louise Nevelson, Steve Tobin and many others.

Manolo Valdés is one of the most original and versatile artists working today. Impassioned by artists of the past, ranging from Zurbarán to Velázquez, Matisse to Lichtenstein, Valdés finds more than just inspiration in their paintings; he uses their work “as a pretext” (“como pretexto”) to create an entirely new aesthetic object – a painting or a sculpture that while clearly derived from a known composition becomes a uniquely brilliant work of art in itself. The artist’s highly expressive style becomes a collection of daring experiments in Desnudo azul, 2005. This vividly painted blue nude inspired by a Matisse painting perfectly encapsulates Valdés’ approach – his signature technique of thick oil paint (hand mixed from raw pigments and oil), encaustic and random bits of color-stained sack cloth, all applied to hand-sewn burlap.

The artist throughout his career has always broken new ground as a painter, sculptor and printmaker as can be seen in this exhibition, which features large-scale mixed media paintings, sculptures in various media of bronze, alabaster and iron, monumental bronze sculptures on the grounds of the museum and a selection of mixed media graphic works.

Born in Valencia Spain in 1942, Valdés began his training as a painter at the age of 15 when he entered the Fine Arts Academy of San Carlos in Valencia. In 1964 Valdés along with Rafael Solbes and Joan Toledo formed an artistic team called Equipo Cronica. Toledo soon left the group but Valdés and Solbes continued to collaborate until Solbes’ premature death in 1981. American and British Pop Art had a strong influence on the artists. They created their own pop style and experimented with format, image appropriation and social as well as political references, specifically to the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Following Solbes death, Valdés reinvented himself creating the paradoxically muscular and refined expressive style centered on art-historical motifs that he continues to explore today.

Valdés has had public exhibitions in such diverse cities as Beijing, Miami, Monaco and St. Petersburg (Russian Federation). More recently in New York in 2011, sixteen monumental bronze sculptures were installed along Broadway from Columbus Circle to 166th Street His work is included in more than 40 public collections including the Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Menil Foundation, Houston, Texas; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée National d’Art Moderne-Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Valdes lives in New York and Madrid. His art continues to evolve but Valdes says he does not know where it will take him next. “Reinventions are not planned. I have been painting for so long that inevitably a reinvention occurs almost organically … I am not very inclined to analyze my own work as a whole,” he adds. “My passion is working. My interest really lies within the execution and the challenges.”

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