'Velázquez as a point of reference has always been the testing ground for Valdés' paraphrases. Each new research effort has been carried out on the fallow land of Velázquez's figures [...] Valdés falls back on Velázquez's work time and again to move forward with his own imagery.' (K. de Baraño quoted in Las Tres Dimensiones en Valdés, exh. cat., Ministre de Culture, Paris, 2005, p. 15).
Executed in 1998, Menina by Manolo Valdés is a compelling sculptural adaptation that references Diego Velazquez's famed painting from 1656. In Menina, the central figure appears to have metamorphosed from a two-dimensional representation into a large, tactile, bronze sculpture encompassing a height of 116 cm. The lack of facial features and the fractured surface evoke a powerful sense of melancholy and fragility; it also raises interesting questions on the passage of time. Menina is a work that waltzes between present and past; as the artist confesses, 'I am just a narrator who comments on the history of painting in various ways; using new materials, it is like a game that consists of changing the code and the key to the art works.' (M.J. Salazar, 'Valdés 25 Years as a Pretext', in Manolo Valdés 1981 -2006, exh. cat., Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid 2006, p. 20). In short, Menina is a forceful example of Valdés' inspired interpretation of history and artistic proficiency - it is a work of history-made-contemporary.