Manolo Valdés, born 1942, is a Spanish artist residing in New York and Madrid, works in paint, sculpture, and mixed media. Valdés is one of very few living artists that have successfully mastered the disciplines of drawing, painting, sculpturing and printmaking. In each medium he shows himself to be technically skilled, highly original, and unceasingly provocative. Born in Valencia, Spain in 1942, he began his training as a painter at the age of 15 when he entered the Fine Arts Academy of San Carlos, Valencia. He entered the Escuela de Bellas Artes de San Carlos in 1957, where he studied two more years. In 1964 Valdés, Rafael Solbes, and Joan Toledo collaborated to form Equipo Crónica, an artistic team that utilized Pop Art to question the Spanish dictatorship of Francisco Franco and the history of art itself. He introduced to Spain a form of expression that combined political and social obligations with humor and irony. After the group dissolved in 1981, Valdés reinvented himself. He drew heavily upon Spanish artistic heritage, particularly the work of Velázquez and the informalismo of his immediate predecessors Manolo Millares, Antonio Saura, and Antoni Tàpies.
Influenced by various masters including Rembrandt, Rubens, and Matisse, Valdés creates large works in which the lighting and colors express a sensation of tactility. His work is forceful and decorated with historical art symbols. Along with the works he exhibited as a part of Equipo Crónicas, Valdés had over seventy expositions between 1965 and 1981, some of which were solo shows and some group shows.
Valdés’s work respects art-history motifs and borrows heavily from masters of years past. But he owns his art by adding an intellectual twist that brings significant historical works out of their original context. He changes the sizes, shapes and details of the work while also using atypical materials.
Valdés has received various awards, including the Lissone and Biella in Milan in 1965; the silver medal in the second International Prints Biennial in Tokyo; an award from the Bridgestone Art Museum in Lisbon; the Alfons Roig Award in Valencia; the National Award for the Fine Arts in Spain; a medal from the biennial International Festival of the Plastic Arts in Baghdad; and in 1993 the Medal of the Order of Andrés Bello in Venezuela.