MANOLO VALDES in NYManolo Valdes
I first saw the work of this famous Spanish artist at the Venice Biennale years ago. I only got to know him when I moved to NY. We kept up with him till 2010 when illness prevented us from a pilgrimage to see his major outdoor sculptures: at Chambord Castle on the Loire; along the elegant Lange Voorhout in The Hague and 16 huge bronzes along Broadway, NYC. Then last year he had a remarkable exhibition at The New York Botanical Garden - 7 enormous bronze, steel and aluminium pieces, some over 5 metre tall and 20 tons. Retrospectives of his work have been at the Guggenheim Bilbao, in Madrid, Florida and Istanbul. Works also at Chatsworth. Many were female heads adorned with headdresses of leaves, flowers, ferns and butterflies.
Now 2 of these have come to rest on Marlborough Gallery 's Manhattan terrace on 57th St between 5th & 6th. The silver one, 'Galatea' is my favourite. 4 metres wide, she is a serene beauty crowned with a labyrinth of ferns.
Inside there are smaller sculptures, some heads with butterflies or swirling, spiral fan-like elements. Also several sculptures of an elegant lady sidesaddle on a horse, (inspired by Velazquez's royal equestrian figures,) and pictures of huge portrait heads made of collaged paper . Each is a woman's head in profile, reminiscent of Renaissance portraits. I was sorry there were no prints as I LOVE his prints! Valdes is a master of simplification. His materials are rough-hewn, his lines often outline only, yet these eliminations create grace, harmony, beauty.