Manolo Valdés - New Now London Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | Phillips

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  • 'Paintings and art and creation never come from nothing; they come from other artists and bits and pieces of other works. Everything that comes out new is always a reading of something else that’s already been done.'
    —Manolo Valdés

    Perfil VI exemplifies Manolo Valdés’s experimentation with image appropriation and reinvention which has asserted his reputation as one of the foremost contemporary Spanish artists. The statuesque profile of a woman is set against a vivid pink background. Collaged materials – some painted with swirls of cobalt blue – clothe the figure, evoking the brocade textiles prevalent in Renaissance portraiture. The delicately traced features and pale complexion of the woman are emphasised by the translucent veil layered over her face, offset by the brightly patterned headdress. 


    Valdés’s deep engagement with art historical sources, evident in Perfil VI, underpins his working practices which extend across six decades of artmaking. Of foremost significance to his oeuvre are the paintings of Old Masters encountered in his museum-going, including those by Rembrandt, Velázquez, and the Italian artist of the Renaissance, Filippo Lippi. Valdés takes fragments of these paintings, typically heads, and through augmentation of scale, simplification of form, and restrained mark-making reinvents the image as an abstract expression of the original (demonstrating the simultaneous influence of modernists such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso). Significantly, Valdés conceives of his paintings as autonomous from the source work. He places himself ‘in front of the original image in the same way that an artist would sit in front of a tree, a lake or a landscape’.i The artwork becomes the subject out of which the artist creates an entirely new image ‘based on the specificity of [his] language’.ii 


    Filippo Lippi, Portrait de profil de jeune femme, c. 1445, oil on wood, Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Image Photo © Fine Art Images / Bridgeman Images

    The present work revisits the image of a woman in profile, or perfil, which has preoccupied Valdés since the 1990s. In earlier iterations of the subject, he experimented with applying oil paint onto layered burlap to create richly textured, patchwork-like surfaces. Created in 2013, Perfil VI demonstrates the artist’s reinvention of his profile works using large-scale collage. Valdés’s ongoing experimentation with medium is evident in the multidisciplinary nature of his artistic practice. A skilled painter, sculptor, and draughtsperson, he recalls his expansive approach to artmaking was inspired by early encounters with the work of Pierre Soulages and Robert Rauschenberg in Paris at the age of 16: ‘From that moment on, I realised that, to paint, you don’t just need a paintbrush. I discovered freedom: visual freedom and artistic freedom. From then on it was a case of 'everything goes'’.iii  In Perlif VI, material and image are fused in a powerful and truly contemporary reimagining of art historical portraiture.

    i Manolo Valdés, quoted in Anna McNay, ‘Manolo Valdés: “I only like apples if they look like Cezanne’s apples!”’, Studio International, 21 June 2016, online
    ii Manolo Valdés, quoted in Manolo Valdés: 1981-2006, exh. cat., Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2006, pp. 20-21.
    iii Manolo Valdés, quoted in Anna McNay, ‘Manolo Valdés: “I only like apples if they look like Cezanne’s apples!”’, Studio International, 21 June 2016, online

    • Provenance

      Marlborough Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Marlborough Gallery, Manolo Valdes Sculpture and Works on Paper, 17 October - 23 November 2013, p. 41 (illustrated)


Perfil VI

signed 'M. Valdés' lower right; titled and dated 'Perfil VI 2013' on the reverse
paper collage, graphite and acrylic on board
163.5 x 119 cm (64 3/8 x 46 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2013.

Full Cataloguing

£70,000 - 100,000 ‡♠

Sold for £88,200

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey
Head of New Now Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 13 July 2021