1939 was a very difficult year for many Spaniards. The Civil War in Spain came to an end although not in the conditions desired by the majority. The mass exodus of thousands of people, soldiers and republican families, is officially recognized for the first time after eighty years. Many events have been held this year and a visual arts project that houses three exhibitions serves as a culmination to this tribute to the Spanish Republican exile.
“The Archery” of Nuevos Ministerios in Madrid has the most complete artistic vision that has been created so far on that forced exile called the Withdrawal. Photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, video and texts that transcribe first-hand testimonials attest to what was experienced in that year and in the following.
The Spanish artistic vanguard is reviewed in the first exhibition titled “1939. The Spanish republican exile”. The vanguard that wanted to stay in our country to move towards modernity in the first decades of the 20th century, the one that wanted to resist until it had no choice but to march, was represented by artists such as Alberto Sánchez, founder of the essential Vallecas School, who moved to Madrid from his homeland Toledo and was in the capital in the last years of the Government of the Spanish Republic. He built a cultural environment also interacting with the main members of the Generation of 27, such as Alberti or García Lorca; Together with them and accompanied by the artist Maruja Mallo, they would make the famous walks from Atocha to Cerro Testigo. His sculpture ‘The Spanish people have a path that leads to a star’, an official commission for the Pavilion of the Republic at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1937, was the poetic reflection of the freedom longed for by civil society. Together with Picasso and Miró, among others, they told the world about the suffering caused by the war.
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In his subsequent exile to Moscow, Alberto, who first worked as a drawing teacher to the children sent there during the war, developed a great stage of his career, in addition to drawing and sculpture, creating scenographies for films such as Don Quixote. This exhibition also reviews the great Spanish cultural tradition, truncated by the war episode, from places such as Mexico or Argentina, two of the main countries that hosted a part of the 500.000 people who had to leave Spain.
But it is in France where the story of the other two exhibitions that are part of the project “La Archery” is located. “The blood is not water” of the artist Pierre Gonnord, of French origin (1963) and settled in Spain for over thirty years, is a commission of the Spanish Ministry of Justice to bring to the present this episode that is commemorated by the Government of Spain. Portraits and testimonies of exiled people, some almost centenarians who have told their testimonies about the Withdrawal, and their descendants, those who rebuilt lives in other countries; 22 compositions give voice to emotional stories that leave no one indifferent. Visual stories of exiles who suffered wars, exodus and concentration camps.
The photographs of the last exhibition “Caminos del Exilio” were taken by Philippe Gaussot, a French journalist (1911-1977), at the Withdrawal, helping as a volunteer as many civilians did from the neighboring country when the Pyrenees were crossed by this great march of Spanish citizens because their lives were in danger in their own country. Gaussot kept in a suitcase the negatives that were the obvious witness of what happened at a time in that part of the History of Spain. At his death, his son found this legacy that has been revealed and is exposed for the first time.
Lives of anonymous people and representatives of the culture, truncated by the war that forced them to leave, that helped to the prosperity of other countries where they had to remain forty years, while lasted the Franco dictatorship, which did not allow them to return.