Monday, January 17

The communist leader who has resurrected an unpublished mural by comrade Josep Renau

“It so happens that we are communists and Valencians.” The general secretary of the Communist Party of the Valencian Country (PCPV), Javier Parra, has resurrected a huge unpublished mural by the artist Josep Renau (València, 1907 – East Berlin, 1982) and is now seeking to negotiate with a public institution to install it somewhere in the city.

Parra (Ruidera, Ciudad Real, 1977), computer engineer by training, studied the master’s degree in design and illustration at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Polytechnic University of Valencia and his research for the final work was precisely on the unpublished mural entitled The future worker of communism that the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Germany (GDR) commissioned the exiled artist in 1969 and later rejected. “The challenge now is to find a space for him to locate him, ideally in his hometown,” says Javier Parra, who is also preparing a doctoral thesis on Renau’s work processes and the application of new technologies to his particular method.

The communist leader has recovered Renau’s files on the mural, deposited in the public foundation to which the artist donated his legacy, to trace the work as planned by the muralist. “These types of projects are very slow, the most executive way was to get down to work,” says Parra, who obtained the approval of the Josep Renau Foundation for the elaboration of the posthumous mural. After two years of work, the general secretary of the PCPV has finished the enormous work, measuring 32 square meters.

“The good thing about this mural is that everything is documented, in Renau’s archive it is preserved from the colors that were requested, the schemes, the size of the boards and even an installation proposal”, says the author. “It is one of the aspects that I find most interesting, I did a very meticulous preliminary study on the traffic of the spectators, the angles and the points of view”, explains Parra.

The inheritor Renau’s ideological and artistic work has worked in a workshop in the Ciudad Fallera, where the monuments of the city’s flagship festival are made. The mural, one of the most loved by the Valencian artist from his time in exile in the GDR, represents science and technology in real socialism despite having unusual lines in Renau’s work; in fact, only one character appears when its giant murals used to represent the whole of the working class (“it is very Renaissance,” he points out).

“I had to transfer the 50 by 70-centimeter sketch to a seven-by-four-meter structure,” says Parra, who has been based on the third and final sketch that Renau created of this unpublished work that is in the Foundation’s funds Josep Renau at the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM).

The challenge, without any kind of public aid, has completed its creation phase but now comes the complicated task of finding a suitable place for it in the artist’s hometown, from where he went into exile after the victory of the Francoist side in the Civil War in a first stage in Mexico and, later, in the GDR.

“There is still much to make known”

“There is still a lot to vindicate of Renau’s figure and work, in his own city it is very complicated, beyond one-off exhibitions, to see Renau’s work when the archive is immense,” recalls Parra, who considers that the exhibition at the IVAM , which can be visited until January 9, “is one of the best that has been done in a long time.”

The general secretary of the PCPV regrets that the legacy of the great Valencian artist has not been sufficiently vindicated: “Progress has been made but there is still much to make his thought and work known.” Despite being one of the architects of the evacuation of the Spanish artistic treasure, threatened by the Francoist bombings in Madrid, Josep Renau “does not even have a plaque in the Prado Museum.” “Being a communist until the last day has also made it difficult for Renau to be sufficiently recognized, which is justice,” he added.

Javier Parra recalls that Renau’s intention was to donate his works to his hometown to continue training new artists. The author is now looking for a suitable location for the enormous mural, 350 kilos and designed by Renau for a covered space. “I am going to make a tour of all the spaces in which there may be enough space and I will knock on doors to be able to propose possible locations to institutions,” says Parra.

“If there really is a will on the part of the institutions, I would like him to stay in the city of Renau”, affirms the general secretary of the Valencian communists.

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