Josep Renau. The American Way of Life
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Photomontages and poster art surround us. We are their victims and their lovers. We like them, we believe them, they catch our eyes and enter our nervous systems. One of the Spanish masters of photomontage and poster art is Josep Renau, who, with this work denounces U.S. imperialism and the exporting of the American lifestyle. Closely linked to the political left and the Communist Party, the Valencian artist was influenced by Expressionism, Dadaism and Surrealism, and after the Spanish Civil War, went into exile in Mexico, where he worked with muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros and got up-close to American culture. He began his series 'Fata-Morgana. USA – The American Way of Life', a fierce criticism of the Cold War, capitalism, racism and militarism, the entirety of which you'll see in this exhibition.
Why see it? Although this work was done half a century ago (and then some), it's far from dated – any of the images could have been made today. The United States is still the most powerful country on the planet, we're still 'buying' the lifestyle, and, in the context of the current socio-economic crisis, we continue to question the order of things. Renau's images are powerful, colourful and formally impeccable. They deserve a new audience.