Josep Renau exhibition with works from his exile in Mexico and Berlin

Valencia, Jul 7 (EFE) .- The Valencian Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) has presented this Wednesday the exhibition “The exiles of Renau”, which brings together posters, photomontages, films and murals of the Valencian artist Josep Renau during his exile in Mexico (1939-1958), and in the German Democratic Republic (1958-1982), which reflect a social unrest and a critique of capitalism.

This exhibition, which can be visited from July 8 to January 9, 2022, collects more than two hundred works in which it reconstructs the various historical contexts to which Renau had to adapt throughout his exiles and incorporates works such as “Portrait of the Bourgeoisie ”or“ The total electrification of Mexico will put an end to the misery of the people ”, important in the Mexico of the 40s.

The exhibition offers the vision of the Valencian intellectual, who stood out for his involvement in the Second Republic and for his desire to save the artistic heritage, far from his “motherland”, as he called his homeland, while exposing the criticism of capitalism formulated by the artist, since his ideology was communist.

Thus, in the exhibition it is observed how Renau draws the confrontation between Mexico and the United States on the one hand, and between the Democratic Republic and the German Federal Republic on the other, from paintings and murals that have the “hope” of making the operative art, which, according to the curator José Ramón Escrivà, was how Renau conceived art.

Escrivà has pointed out that the artist’s “most collective” work is shown, through Mexican group muralism, the author’s movie posters or works for union magazines: “Without that experience, he would not have done what he did later in Germany. ”Said Escrivà.

The curator has commented that this exhibition tries to address novel elements of the figure of the famous Valencian poster artist, a fact that has caused the introduction of contemporary artists such as David Alfaro Siqueiros, of whom Escrivà has highlighted that they shared his vision of art, the Russian Alexander Zhitominrsky or the German Dieter Urbach.

In the same way, he has vindicated the figure of Manuela Ballester, Renau’s partner, of whom he has assured that without her “the work of the Valencian poster artist could not be understood”.

He has also highlighted that, beyond the exiles, the show also recreates the criticism of American capitalism through the series of photomontages “The American Way of Life”, with which he contrasts the traditional vision of “American domestic happiness” in the Cold War context between Soviets and Americans.

In this section, Renau structures The American Way of Life as a filmed story in which the Valencian exposes his criticisms of American racism, the “traps” of popular culture or the manipulation of the commercial image of women, understood as an object sexual, and points out “the confrontation between steel and human flesh”, since “he saw that the machinery was at the service of destruction”, Escrivà highlighted.

The third section of the exhibition is based, according to Josep Salvador, on “the new forms of expression” that Renau found upon his arrival in Germany, where art no longer appears only in drawings and paintings, but also in the urban image of the cities.

According to Salvador, Renau incorporates murals in hallways in his early years in Berlin, while, later on, he “gathers a new perspective by rebuilding the bombed cities” in World War II, and, in this new challenge, he is incorporated into a program public integration of art and building.

Escrivà has stressed that this is one of the reasons why Renau continues to have a great validity: “Many ‘graffiti artists’ see Renau as an antecedent and a myth”, he concluded.


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