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Marbella Print Museum presents Viola as both man and artist

The 'Casidas' series.
The 'Casidas' series. / JOSELE-LANZA
  • The Spanish Print Museum presents its first monographic exhibition of graphic art and painting by Manuel Viola in Marbella

To coincide with the 102nd anniversary of his birth in Zaragoza, the Spanish Print Museum opened the doors to its first single-subject exhibition of the work of Manuel Viola on 18 May.

The vast exhibition, which is available to the public until 7 July, occupies almost every room in the Marbella art gallery, to display the creative genius of one of the most popular members of the legendary El Paso group.

Visitors will have the chance to view photographs and other original documents whilst learning little-known details about the artist's life.

The show is curated by Javier Lacruz Mavas, the author of 'Manuel Viola. Entre la luz y la tinebla' [Between the light and the shadows], one of the most comprehensive studies of the artist to date.

Rafael Canogar, cofounder of El Paso and patron of the Spanish Print Museum, has also been fundamental in the creation of this exhibition. The artist lent a folder of lithography from El Paso to the gallery, which contains work from Canogar himself, Martín Chrino, Manuel Millares, Manuel Rivera, Antonio Saura and Viola.

Also interesting is the contribution from the Cultural Consortium for Goya, Fuendetodos. The organisation in Zaragoza has lent some early tests from the 'Casidas', a lithography series by Viola which pays homage to Federico García Lorca.

'La Saeta' will be displayed. The painting, which was significant in the informalism movement, determined Viola's acceptance into the El Paso group - the most important visual arts collective of the second half of the 20th Century - and was what helped Manuel Viola become recognised as one of the greats.

This ambitious exhibition also dedicates some wall space to the time before Viola became an artist, when he was more a poet than a painter and lived in France after being exiled in the wake of the Spanish civil war.

The show will have a small section which aims to throw light upon the man behind the artist. Texts and graphic documentation will reveal, for example, his passion for flamenco and a fondness for pseudonyms.

Germán Borrechero, executive director of the gallery says that he felt it important to include some reference material about Viola's adventurous life.

The exhibition, which was launched on International Museum Day, is altogether a beautiful homage to one of the main protagonists in the renovation of Spanish art after the war.