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Painting against all odds

Photography of Manuela Ballester, undated, Teresa Renau Collection, Berlin
Photography of Manuela Ballester, undated, Teresa Renau Collection, Berlin





From Valencia to the German Democratic Republic, passing through Mexican exile, she lived between brushes, murals and personal struggles. A tireless creator, Manuela Ballester forged, with tenacity and care, a legacy that transcends borders and time.


Manuela Ballester was a prolific artist whose work can be found in several countries. She was also a multifaceted artist who experimented with numerous artistic languages. But despite the efforts made in recent times to revalue her figure, her work still awaits a well-deserved recognition. It was a production that she worked on with tenacity and care, which was not without its difficulties, due to the circumstances arising from her roles as the wife and mother of a large family, but also from her forced departure from her homeland. Ballester was one of the members of the so-called "Valencian generation of the thirties", a committed artist in wartime and a tireless painter during her Mexican and German exile. Concerned about women's rights and democratic ideals, Manuela Ballester fought to combine the roles attributed to her gender with her profession, and her production is a faithful example of this.


Thus, this exhibition aims to contribute to the recognition of Manuela Ballester and to make known some of her works that have never been seen in Spain, while establishing itself as the first major retrospective of the artist, bringing together numerous works from her extensive production, both in Spain and abroad. The exhibition is divided into four sections that seek to draw attention to the artist's training and youth, her activity during the Spanish war, the wide range of artistic languages and media in her Mexican exile and her intense activity during her stay in the German Democratic Republic. This includes paintings - including portraits, a genre in which the artist excelled - magazine illustrations and covers for editorials, fashion illustrations, posters and mural and advertising projects. These works are placed in context with photographs, publications, archive documents and press cuttings that help to understand the scope and importance of the Valencian painter's artistic activity.


These activities are part of the projects :

-Artistas transatlánticas. Producciones e identidades entre España y Latinoamérica en el siglo  XX desde la perspectiva feminista (Ref. 52-1-ID22).

-Hacedoras de Cultura: "conexiones e intercambios artísticos transatlánticos en el siglo XX" (PID2022-1426330A-100, funded by MCIN/AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033 and by "FEDER Una manera de hacer Europa")




Manuela Ballester
Totli Renau, 1949 Óleo sobre lienzo, 69 x 60.5 cm
Colección Museo Kaluz


Manuela Ballester Cover for Pasionaria magazine. Revista de las mujeres antifascistas de Valencia, 4. November 21, 1936 Printed paper. Cristina Escrivà Collection