To celebrate how important arts and culture are on a global level, Opera Gallery have collaborated with The Comité George V to install ten monumental sculptures by globally-acclaimed artist Manolo Valdés that will adorn Paris’ prestigious luxury George V Avenue until 15th January 2021.
As a global arts enterprise during these difficult times, Opera Gallery are dedicated to showcasing the best art world-wide despite national lockdowns. Installed before the French lockdown was announced, this unique public sculpture exhibition in Paris is a continuation of the work Opera Gallery have been doing in London as part of Mayfair Sculpture Trail.
Public art is the only way to physically engage with art in a safe environment as hundreds of galleries and museums have been forced to close due to the French lockdown. Until 15th January, and once lockdown is over, passers-by will be able to enjoy Manolo Valdés’ breath-taking monumental sculptures on both sides of the avenue, alongside paragons of luxury retail from Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Bulgari as well as emblematic Palaces such as the Prince de Galles, the Four Seasons George V and the Fouquet’s; these prominent institutions are strong supporters of the arts.
One of Spain’s most acclaimed and best-selling contemporary artists, Manolo Valdés is renowned for his monumental sculptures and is one of the rare artists of his generation to include painting, engraving and sculpture into his practice. Valdés’ flair for playful and tactile aesthetics have made him one of the most sought-after artists for monumental public installations around the world, with works at Place Vendôme in Paris, Park Avenue in New York and Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley, to name a few. His unique style is one of the most innovative of the second half of the 20th century and his œuvre is a stunning interpretation of the History of Art, and a glorious tribute to Classics as well as the artistic greats such as El Greco, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Constantin Brancusi. According to Valdés, “Art of each era always gathers elements from the past; art is a succession and an eternal addition”.
Monumentality in Valdés’ œuvre is well-suited to the urban landscape with the round and horizontal shapes that fit perfectly in the avenues and parks, as they soften the rectitude of street lines and building vertical outlines. The artworks presented here are also technical “tour de force”, as some stretch almost seven meters’ wide. The Menina, an emblematic figure of his work and reminiscing of Diego Velázquez, is also featured in this selection in a variety of bright resins: orange, blue, lilac and black. They stand as echoes of fire opals, sapphires, amethysts and black diamonds featured on the luxury jewellery shops of the Avenue George V. This vibrant blue is a signature hue for the artist and is known among connoisseurs as the “Valdés blue”.
Manolo Valdés: Monumentales Égeries is a true ode to femininity. Fascinated by matter and its properties, the artist uses aluminium, bronze, resin and stainless steel to reveal the classical theme of the female portrait under a new light. The sculptures’ stylised heads, bedecked with crowns and headdresses often bear the name of actual women such as Ariela, or Muses and divinities such as Clio which he created after Sandro Botticelli’s own Clio - Valdés’ rendition is an oval-shaped head, embellished by a geometric construction of straight lines.
Valdés’ busts with delicate, soft features allude to women caught in a moment of absolute serenity: their ataraxia refers to their idealised portraits in the tradition of Ancient Egyptian, Buddhist or Roman statues. In Valdés’ imagery of women it is not their erotic potential but rather their ability to interact with their environment, and relation to the public space they are situated in.
The artist creates his muses from looking at the world around his, which can be seen in his Mariposas series that was inspired by an extraordinary scene he caught at Central Park where he met a woman surrounded by a swirl of butterflies. The two sculptures Cabeza de Mariposas and Mariposas illustrate this scene on the Avenue.