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Jesús Martínez Guerricabeitia and Carmen García Merchante

Jesús Martínez Guerricabeitia and Carmen García Merchante
Wolf Vostell hugging Carmen García and Jesús Martínez. Valencia, 1976.

José Martínez Guerricabeitia belongs to a generation inevitably marked by the war and the repressive character of the Francoist regime, which brought is father, his brother, founder of historical editorial Ruedo, and himself to suffer imprisonment because of their convictions. A traumatic stay in prison, which nevertheless played a big role in his own formation: he received classes from professors which had also suffered reprisals and he was able to improve his English. These were the last lessons he ever received because, when he left prison, he became a premature adult forced to raise himself, with no chance of continue studying. Perhaps, that is the reason why his will to learn and his intellectual curiosity never disappeared.

Once he was free again, he managed to lead the way and become a young entrepreneur. He worked in a linotype as a correct and he even applied methods of his invention to repair the mould of different Valencian linotypes. After stablishing himself on his own in a linotypes warehouse, he migrates to Colombia, along with his wife Carmen García Merchante and son, and in 1968 they moves to the Virgin Island before coming back to Valencia definitely in 1970. His stay abroad made him into a skilful businessman, with a wide experience in representation and commercial management. It is with this experience that he returns to Valencia and he can afford that his old hobby, art, translates into the acquisition of some paintings. At the same time, he is a collaborator, not a member, of the Communist Party and other civic forces.

By the initiative of Jesús Martínez Guerricabeitia, the Patronat Martínez Guerricabeitia (PMG) is created in 1989, which becomes, in 2016, the Martínez Guerricabeitia Collection, in the bosom of the General Foundation of the Universitat de València. Its objective is to encourage and disseminate the creative activity in the field of plastic arts, as well as to increase the artistic heritage of the institution.

In 1999, Carmen and Jesús gave the Universitat de València their contemporary art collection, made of more than 400 pieces, 129 unique pieces, between paintings, drawings and some photographs, as well as 274 copies of his seried Works, mainly silk-screen prints and etching. This makes the Universitat as the Spanish university that owns one of the most important contemporary art collections. This collection shows a panoramic view of the Spanish art of the second half of the 20th Century through 200 artists, especially those than have harvested social and political changes, such as Anzo, Arroyo, Canogar, Equip Crònica, Genovés, Heras, Villalba and Vostell, amongst others.

The most important activity that the Martínez Guerricabeitia Collection carries out, along with the conservation and diffusion of the pictorial collection given by the family, is the organisation of the Biennale of painting Martínez Guerricabeitia initiative. It has managed to put itself in a privileged place within the artistic events in our country because of the seriousness and conceptual coherence and organisation that have characterised the fourteen editions of the exhibition carried out until now. In this moment, a remarkable anecdote is that the 12th edition of the Biennale, celebrated in 2014, coincided with the 25 years of the creation of the foundation.

In 2004, Jesús Martínez Guerricabeitia gives almost of his personal library, a total of about 23,000 books (mainly social and political works, philosophy, art and poetry) and periodicals, to the Valencian Library.

In 1997, he received the Medal of the Universitat de València; in 1998, he was awarded the Prize of the Valencian Association of Art Critics (AVCA); in 1999, the Medal of San Carlos of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Polytechnic University of Valencia; in 2008, the Medal of Regent of the Valencian Council of Culture; and, in 2013, the Important Prize awarded by the Levante-EMV newspaper. Likewise, in 2010, the Excellent Valencia City Council awarded him the distinction of naming a street after him in the Tarongers Campus of the Universitat de València.

Carmen García Merchante passed away on January 9, 2009. Jesús Martínez Guerricabeitia passed away on September 7, 2015. On October 9th of this year, he was posthumously awarded the Distinction of the Valencian Government for Cultural Merit.