Artist In Residence: Manolo Valdes

In the run-up to Spanish artist Manolo Valdes’ solo exhibition at Opera Gallery Dubai, MOJEH speaks to the artist about the his various inspirations and ambitions.

Mariposas Dorada I 13x29x8 Brass with 24k gold 2017

What inspired you to become an artist?
My love and interest for the fine arts led me to become an artist. These are decisions that are made slowly over time. There is a predisposition and an interest for certain activities and for certain topics. As I deepened my knowledge, that interest coupled with said predisposition turned into a desire to create paintings and sculptures. It becomes your primary activity and ends up being your existence, your obsession and your necessity. That feeling, that excitement has been a need that has grown with the passage of time. I like to say that for me painting is like breathing.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your solo exhibition at the Opera Gallery.
The Dubai show is very special because it is the first time that I am going to a country where few people know my work. The excitement of showing in a new country translates in an impetus to choose the current works that I think are the most interesting. In this instance, I have interpreted some Matisse portraits using materials that artists, whose works inspire me, did not use. In addition to using burlap and oils, I introduce mirror fragments, woods and stings in hopes that they will make the works interesting and attractive to the viewer.

Tell us about your experience and relationship with the Middle East and Dubai.
I have never been to Dubai. I have great curiosity to travel there especially with my art. When I travel to a new place, I open my eyes more and I get very excited because I am going to encounter something new that will undoubtedly enrich me. On the other hand, Middle Eastern culture and art are not foreign to me because I live in New York City. Both are very well represented in the Metropolitan Museum as well as other Museums I have visited around the world.

What do you hope to achieve with your upcoming solo exhibit?
My hope is that the public in Dubai will come face to face with my work and get to know it. Nothing would make me happier that the public connecting to my work and my discourse. In addition to paintings, I am bringing monumental sculptures that will be installed on the streets, which means that even those people that who will not visit the exhibition itself will still be able to see my work and enjoy it.

What kind of themes dominate your artwork and why?
My topics are types: portraits, still-life and landscape. For this show I have chosen to paint portraits therefore focusing only one of the types. My work always looks to Art History as a model. I read and comment on other artists' works specifically through painting. In the same way that literature or music is inspired by previous books or songs from the past in some occasions, I join that trend and introduce new materials and techniques that help me to achieve a complex reading. An example of this is when I am in front of a portrait by Matisse, like for this show, I choose the fragment that interests me and I introduce the scale and impact that Pop Art taught me and the techniques that I learned from Abstract Art. I do an aesthetic tour of the techniques used in Art History from the moment that Matisse painted said portrait through today.

What do you have in store for 2018?
In addition to this show in Dubai, I am planning on having shows in Geneva and Zurich with Opera Gallery. I am also planning shows in Italy, Germany and the United States.

Manolo Valdes’s Solo Exhibition will run from March 15 to April 14