Manolo Valdés and Paris

Like so many other Spanish creators, Manolo Valdés was attracted to Paris very early on. The city had clearly been the most vibrant centre for art for over a century. Growing up in the grim autocracy of Franco’s Spain, he devoured the French art reviews sent to him by a professor at the Beaux-Arts in Valencia. He was not quite eighteen when set off from the Estación del Norte to work in Lyon for the summer, which allowed him to spend a week in the French capital and visit the Louvre, which he says he cherished as much as El Prado and the Museum of Modern Art. During this visit, he discovered a drawing by Rauschenberg and, as he says, “learnt what freedom is”. He often visited Paris in his youth, and once he graduated from the Beaux Arts in Valencia, these trips allowed him to meet the group of painters Gilles Aillaud, Eduardo Arroyo and Antonio Recalcati, and critics Michel Troche and Gerald Gassiot Talabot, who were actively involved in the Salon de la Jeune Peinture in the 1960s in Paris. It was thanks to this connection that Equipo Crónica, the duo he created with Rafael Solbes, exhibited in the French capital in 1965 and 1967. It was also in Paris that he was noticed by Antonio Saura who introduced him to Rodolphe Stadler, who went on to become his first gallery owner. And then there were the collaborations with Maeght in the 1980s, and with Hoss in the following decade, before it was Opera Gallery’s turn to make Valdés’ work resound. His works were shown at the Pompidou Centre in 1999, in the exhibition Patio de la Mairie d’Anglet. In 2005, the installation of Valdés’ Meninas in the Palais-Royal gardens was a success, as was Monumental Valdés in 2016. By exhibiting his works outdoors, on the back of the giant that is Paris, Valdés pays resounding homage to the city that gave him his first wings.