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José Manaut. Oil paintings and drawings from prison, 1943-1944

The interest of this exhibition lies in the fact that it is the first exhibition in the collection of drawings - discovered the previous year - and small-format oils painted by the Valencian José Manaut (Líria, 1989 - Madrid, 1971) during his stay in the provincial prison of Madrid - Porlier and Carabanchel- between 1943 and 1944. The images that Manaut captured, showed not only the details of the daily life of the republican prisoners, like the siesta, the ranch, the reading of the correspondence or the deflea but they testified the crudity of the Franco's repression in the prisons. The exhibition was curated by the professors of the Carlos III University of Madrid, Feico Castro and Elisa Povedano.

Josep Manaut was a man who was culturally and politically involved in the society of his time and for this reason was forgotten by the history written during the Franco regime.  The drawings and oils shown in this exhibition bring us closer to daily life during the years he was in prison condemned by Mason (1943-1944), a world totally unknown to most spectators.

Despair, hunger, loneliness... give argument to the diaries he wrote in prison, a reflection of his experiences with people who had been expelled from society for common crimes and political affairs, first in Porlier prison (1943-1944) and then in Carabanchel prison (1944).

In both the diaries and the drawings and sketches for a projected pictorial series on the prison, Josep Manaut depicts dead hours, crowding and sadness; he also depicts the psychological failure caused by the deprivation of freedom, which even can lead to the loss of reason.  Images that will make us reflect and, in some cases, will open the memories of people who have lived in similar conditions in their own skin or in that of loved ones.

The exhibition will be divided into two main sections: a gallery of portraits representing some of the profiles of the repression exercised by the dictatorship, next to anonymous faces, and portraits of men who lived with him in the prison and then painted in oil from memory.  The second reflects life in prison: solitude, coexistence in common spaces such as the washing place and the infirmary, the bundles in the galleries and the courtyard constrained by the bars of Carabanchel prison.     

In addition to these sections in which drawings and oil paintings appear, we wanted to show in showcases some significant documents of crucial episodes in the life of Josep Manaut: His studies at the schools of Fine Arts in València and Madrid, his prizes and scholarships for El Paular or the one granted to him by the Junta de Amplificación de Estudios to study Impressionism in France, Belgium and Holland - it was in Paris that he began his artistic work; his activity as a drawing teacher in official teachings, his political and cultural commitment to the Republic and to "Popular Culture" - in Valencia - during the Civil War, the process that led him to prison, the application for reduction of sentence and exile; his return to Madrid, the last attempts to re-enter the ranks of professor, when he finished his work at the French Lyceum and the academy he organised; and finally, his exhibitions and, of course, his research work: books, articles, memoirs, etc.     

All this in an exhibition presented by the artist, but also by the man and the militant, the writer and the cartoonist full of sensitivity who was able to write diaries and poems, and to draw that world from which he tried to move away and overlap, on sheets of paper, barbershop cards, the back of various wrappings..., documents he took out of prison inside bundles of dirty clothes that his wife collected during her visits to the prisoner.