Julian Opie exhibition

The exhibition organised by the Hortensia Herrero Foundation presents, for the first time in Valencia, monumental sculptures by Julian Opie (London, 1958). The exhibition brings together sixteen works, installed in the Plaza del Colegio del Patriarca and the La Nau Cultural Centre, which focus on the human figure in motion, walking through the city, alone or in a crowd; walking, running to catch a train or waiting in the square with their arms folded.

The event transcends the usual margins of a museum to take over the streets in the centre of Valencia with the aim of bringing contemporary art to the public. Specifically for this project, Julian Opie has created two previously unseen steel sculptures that are twelve metres high and weigh six tonnes and occupy the Plaza del Colegio del Patriarca, and which will change the city’s landscape for the coming few months. The pieces represent two human figures, people from the artist’s circle whom he captures carrying out their everyday activities.

Next to them is a sculptural group of four walkers, which are over two metres tall, that originated from the photographs Opie takes of anonymous people walking along the street. These pieces look more like three-dimensional drawings than sculptures. And all the work by the British creator has its origin in drawing, the first visual thought of every artist.

The exhibition continues in the cloister to La Nau with figures in dialogue with the statue of Luis Vives. A contrast between the new and the old. The contemporary pieces are set beside a nineteenth-century sculpture by José Aixá. The academy’s statue represents a man who was ahead of his time, a Renaissance humanist who was born in Valencia and studied at the university, but moved to Julian Opie’s country to work at the court of Henry VIII along with his friend and colleague Thomas More. These sculptures have now travelled in the opposite direction to that taken by Luis Vives by travelling from London to Valencia to pay homage to the Valencian thinker.

The exhibition is completed with two light boxes, two cubes with more walkers and his well-known animations on LED screens, visions of anonymous crowds going about their daily business in big cities. These pieces, in the same style as the friezes in ancient Egyptian art, show characters with their facial features hidden, linked by the black lines with which Opie always defines his figures.

According to Opie, “the earliest Greek and Egyptian statues were often carved as moving figures. This implicit movement gives a dynamic and an elegance to the figure, a perception of intention, independence and power. A standing figure seems to be reacting to the observer. However, a walking figure is distracted, so it can observed without confrontation. The whole idea of scale is somewhat strange, we read scale in relation to ourselves – elephants are big, ants are small – but it can easily be reversed; solar systems can look like ping-pong balls, and the interiors of computers like Asian cities. We have the ability to project and see from outside our perspective”.

The exhibition, which has the collaboration of Valencia City Council and the University of Valencia, through the Vice-Rectorate of Culture and Sport, will be open from 27 May until 19 September 2021.

Julian Opie

Julian Opie was born in 1958 in London and graduated in 1983 from Goldsmiths School of Art. He lives and works in London.

With public commissions from Seoul to New York, Luxembourg to Zurich and a steady flow of large museum exhibitions internationally, the work of Julian Opie is known throughout the world. Opie’s distinctive formal language is instantly recognisable and reflects his artistic preoccupation with the idea of representation, and the means by which images are perceived and understood.

Always exploring different techniques both cutting edge and ancient, Opie plays with ways of seeing through reinterpreting the vocabulary of everyday life; his reductive style evokes both a visual and spatial experience of the world around us. Taking influence from classical portraiture, Egyptian hieroglyphs and Japanese woodblock prints, as well as public signage, information boards and traffic signs, the artist connects the clean visual language of modern life, with the fundamentals of art history.

Major museum exhibitions include Kunstverein, Cologne; Hayward Gallery and ICA in London; K21, Dusseldorf; MAK, Vienna; Mito Tower, Japan, CAC, Malaga; IVAM, Valencia; MoCAK, Krakow; Tidehalle, Helsinki, Fosun Foundation, Shanghai, Suwon IPark Museum of Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and Berardo Museum, Lisbon.

Public projects include Dentsu Building, Tokyo 2002; City Hall Park, New York 2004; River Vltava, Prague 2007; Calgary, Canada, 2012; PKZ, Zurich 2014; Carnaby Street, London 2016; Tower 535, Hong Kong 2016 and Fosun Foundation, Shanghai 2018.

Public art collections holding Opie’s works include, Tate, British Museum, Victoria & Albert, Arts Council, British Council and National Portrait Gallery in London; MoMA, New York; ICA, Boston USA; Essl Collection, Vienna; The Israel Museum in Jerusalem and Takamatsu City Museum of Art, Japan.

Virtual tour and archaeological finds

The Hortensia Herrero Art Centre is progressing nicely, as can be seen in a virtual tour of the works being carried out by the ERRE Arquitectura firm of architects at Valencia’s Valeriola Palace, which was built in the Baroque style in the early 17th Century. The project combines historical conservation and rebuilding to create a 3,500-square-metre centre that will be a landmark facility for Contemporary Art.

The virtual tour takes visitors through the Palace’s main entrance, sited on Carrer de la Mar (street), letting them explore the piano nobile (principal floor), the balconies, the cut-stone stairs, and the inner patio, all of which will be restored and conserved in the final building. The tour ends in the yard of the future Art Centre.

The video shows the main architectural works involved. These will keep the Palace’s volume by focusing construction on the area around the patio. The façade opposite the San Cristóbal Monastery will also be kept and four floors will be added to bring the Art Centre up to the same height as the neighbouring buildings.

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Archaeological finds

The virtual tour also shows some of the main archaeological finds made during the excavations, such as the boundary of the city‘s Old Jewish Quarter, a Mediaeval oven, and part of the walls of the Roman circus of Valentia. This Roman circus was the greatest building in the city and dates back to the 2nd Century AD. It covers an area some 350 metres long and over 70 metres wide. During the digs at the Palace, several sections of the grandstand’s 5-meter-wide wall were found, together with three other longitudinal walls, and seven buttresses on the outside of the wall. These finds will be preserved and exhibited to visitors to the future Hortensia Herrero Art Centre.

Since the works began, 22 burial sites belonging to the San Juan del Hospital cemetery have also been found, as well as the remains of an Islamic courtyard consisting of a central part with a square floor, a pond and fountains at each end.

The restoration works will take three years to complete. The opening of the future Hortensia Herrero Art Centre is scheduled for 2023.

Art lies within us

The Hortensia Herrero Foundation has commissioned graffiti to decorate the surroundings while restoration work on the Valeriola Palace is under way. The graffiti will be painted on the hoardings on Carrer de la Mar street. “Art lies within us” is the slogan that has been chosen — a clear allusion to a historic building that is destined to become the Hortensia Herrero Art Centre.

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Valeriola Palace

This building occupies an iconic spot in Valencia’s Old Town on Carrer de la Mar street. The Palace was built in the Baroque style in the early 17th Century.

The vestiges of the Palace are being thoroughly restored to save and secure the structure, upon which the future Hortensia Herrero Art Centre will be built. The works to recover the Palace’s former magnificence are being carried out by a Valencian studio, ERRE Arquitectura. In addition to the building’s future value as an Art Centre, the scheme will also recover a unique, historical edifice. Once restoration is complete, visitors will be able to see the remains of The Jewish Quarter and part of the ruins of the Roman Circus, which lies under the Palace.

Valeriola Palace: a new home for art

Six months have passed since restoration work began on the Valeriola Palace, located in the heart of Valencia’s Old Town. On project completion, the Palace will become the Hortensia Herrero Art Centre.

The following time-lapse video shows the progress made during the project’s first stage. Carlos Barberá, the scheme’s Technical Architect, notes that “Slurry wall foundations will make up the basement perimeter. We will then continue with the archaeological excavation before building the structure”.

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A multi-disciplinary team of architects, restorers, archaeologists and historians is involved in this ambitious project, which aims to both conserve the vestiges of the Valeriola Palace and transform it into a contemporary building. “I think that [the Hortensia Herrero Art Centre] greatly boosts the value of the building by capitalising on its history and endowing the Palace with a series of unique elements”, says archaeologist Tina Herreros.


The Hortensia Herrero Foundation has acquired and donated several of the pieces exhibited over the last few years so that part of the temporary exhibitions that the Foundation has organised will remain forever in the Valencian Community, at least in part.

La Pamela (Picture Hat) (by Manolo Valdés)

La Pamela (Picture Hat) is a work by Manolo Valdés which was part of the exhibition that the Valencian artist installed at the City of Arts and Sciences in 2017. Once the exhibition closed, this piece was transferred to La Marina de València, in front of the Marina de Empresas business area. Hortensia Herrero donated this piece after it won the popular vote among the visitors to the exhibition.

Mariposas (Butterflies) (by Manolo Valdés)

This is another work by Manolo Valdés which has been left forever in the Valencian Community; specifically, in Castellón. Initialy it was going to be temporarily transferred to the city of Castellón and installed at the Ribalta Park. But eventually, the Foundation decided to donate it for good. Its final and current location is Avinguda Rei en Jaume.

La Mariposa (The Butterfly) (by Manolo Valdés)

Like Valencia and Castellón, Alicante also has a sculpture by Manolo Valdés donated by the Hortensia Herrero Foundation. It is called La Mariposa (The Butterfly). As was the case in Castellón, the initial idea was a temporary transfer and it was installed on the Explanada promenade in the city of Alicante, at the crossroads with Rambla Méndez Núñez. The donation eventually materialised and this piece was transferred to its usual location: Plaza de Galicia.

Points of View (by Tony Cragg)

British artist Tony Cragg was the second to bring a temporary exhibition of sculptures to the City of Arts and Sciences. As in the case of Manolo Valdés, the Hortensia Herrero Foundation wanted a part of it to stay forever in Valencia, and bought one of the pieces in order to be donated to the city. This time, the piece of art selected was Points of View and the site chosen for its location was the Monteolivete Bridge, in particular, the Marathon of Valencia roundabout.

Santos Juanes Church

In June 2021, restoration works began in the Santos Juanes Church, declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument by Decree of 21/02/1947, thanks to the agreement signed between the Hortensia Herrero Foundation and the Archbishopric of Valencia.

The restoration take place on two levels. On the one hand, the restoration of the frescoes on the vault of the temple, by Antonio Palomino, carried out by the team led by Professor Pilar Roig, lecturer in the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property and researcher at the University Institute of Heritage Restoration of the UPV. On the other hand, the architectural work aims to remedy the structural and constructive deficiencies to ensure conservation of the building, including its façades. This work is directed by architect Carlos Campos.

The budget for the works amounts to six million euros and costs are to be covered by the Hortensia Herrero Foundation. The works will finish in 2024.

Restoration of the Valeriola Palace, the future home of the Hortensia Herrero Art Centre

One of the restoration projects currently underway is the Valeriola Palace. This building, located in an iconic enclave in Valencia’s Old Town (Carrer de la Mar street) is of neoclassical style and was built in the early 17th Century.

It is currently undergoing a comprehensive restoration in order to protect and secure the structure, on which the future Hortensia Herrero Art Centre will be built. The works to recover its splendour are being carried out by the Valencian architectural studio ERRE Arquitectura. In addition to its future value as an Art Centre, this restoration project means the recovery of a unique building in Valencia’s Old Town. Once the restoration is finished, visitors will be able to contemplate the remains of the Jewish quarter and part of the ruins of the Roman Circus, located at the lower level of the Palace.


The artist Jaume Plensa closed the sculptural trilogy promoted by the Hortensia Herrero Foundation in the City of Arts and Sciences with the sample of seven outdoor sculptures in 2019. All figures, seven meters high and more than 7,000 kilos of weight each, were made of cast iron and responded to women’s names, a tribute to feminity.

Two of the sculptures that were part of the exhibition, Silvia and Maria, were exhibited in the town of Elche and, later, in Vila-real. The Hortensia Herrero Foundation will donate one of them to the city of Valencia.

About Jaume Plensa

Jaume Plensa is one of the Spanish artists with the greatest presence all over the world. Cities such as Montreal, San Diego, Chicago, Seul, Tokyo, Miami, New York, London, Salzburg, Liverpool, Dubai and Dallas have his sculptures permanently installed. Likewise, Plensa’s work has been temporarily exhibited in museums and institutions like the Venice Biennial, the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the the Picasso Museum in Antibes, the MAMAC in Nice, in museums in cities like Helsinki, Tampa or Nashville and in his Paris, New York and Chicago galleries. Plensa opened two exhibitions in our country in November 2018: one for a specific project for Madrid’s Palacio de Cristal (Glass Palace) (MNCARS) and another one in the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA). Both exhibitions can be visited until April 2019.

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The College of High Silk Art

The College of High Silk Art nowadays looks brand new again, thanks to the restoration carried out by the Hortensia Herrero Foundation. This restoration, in addition to recovering one of the most outstanding buildings of the Valencian architecture and culture, will contribute to the cultural enrichment of a very special area of ​​the historic center of the city of València, the district of Velluters. After two years of work, the new look of the College of High Silk Art was presented in 2016.

The building of the College of High Silk Art dates back to the 15th century. It has a Gothic base and its interior reveals very important heritage in the form of frescoes, murals and mosaics, such as, for example, the floor of the FAMA. Its restoration also meant recovering a piece immaterial history of the city, as the silk guild was a reference in the rest of the world and one of the pillars of the Valencian economy.

In addition to the splendour of the building and its rooms, the objective of the restoration was to make the college self-sufficient and to convert it in a museum, in order to show visitors the importance of silk and the wealth it brought to the city of Valencia throughout history.

All information about the museum can be found on this link: http://www.museodelasedavalencia.com/


The artist Tony Cragg, one of the icons of the British art scene, took over from Manolo Valdés and exhibited six pieces, two of them expressly made for the occasion, at the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències. The temporary exhibition opened on June 27, 2018 and remained open until October 14 in different enclaves of the complex designed by Santiago Calatrava. Four of the sculptures that exceeded six meters in height and 4,000 kilograms in weight were placed on the water of the enclosure’s ponds, something unprecedented in the artist’s work.

Tony Cragg’s work is characterized by the use of very varied materials such as stone, wood, aluminum, bronze, steel or plastic that transforms into organic forms.

After the exhibition, the Points of view piece was purchased by the Hortensia Herrero Foundation and donated to the city of Valencia.

About Tony Cragg

Sir Anthony Cragg (Liverpool, 1949) has been living and working in the German city of Wuppertal since 1977. Cragg, who will have a major exhibition on the streets of New York at the same time as his show in Valencia, is one of the most prestigious contemporary British artists of our time and has received numerous international awards such as the Turner Prize (1988), Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France (1992), Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts in London (1993), Order of the British Empire (2002) and the Order of Merit of the Republic of Germany (2012), to name but a few.

In 1988, he represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale and his work has been exhibited in museums such as the Reina So a, Tate Gallery, Louvre, Centre Pompidou, Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Stedelijk in Amsterdam, the Nasher Museum in Dallas, Corcoran Gallery in Washington, Belvedere Gallery in Vienna, MACRO in Rome, and CAFA Museum in Beijing.

Since 2009 he’s director of the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf.