The work of Modesto Ciruelos during the 1930s represents a combination of all of the visual arts experiences assimilated during his years of learning. His knowledge of the work of Picasso, Cézanne, Monet, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Mondrian and Klee would result in compositions heavily influenced by the Cubist structuring of volume. They also feature the rapid brushstrokes of the Impressionist tradition and a bright colourfulness inherited from Expressionism. All of these recurring elements can be found in Fusilados (Executed by Firearm, 1936), acquired by the Museo Reina Sofía in 2013, along with Descubierta (Exposed, 1936). Their subject matter refers to the painful events of the Spanish Civil War, displaying powerful activist elements. In addition to the purely artistic value of this piece, there is also its documentary angle, especially significant in this case. Together with Descubierta, the piece formed part of the group of creations included in the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 Paris International Exhibition. This fact is confirmed by the abundant evidence supporting the presence of these two paintings at the aforementioned event. The various trends and facets of the Spanish art scene in the 1930s came together at the Spanish Pavilion, which was curated by José Gaos, former vice-chancellor of the University of Madrid. It included pieces on view in Madrid during the Artistas Ibéricos (Iberian Artists) exhibition, those that emerged in Catalonia around the GATEPAC group of architects, and works developed in Valencia in the sphere of Sert and his circle. Despite this, the iconic nature of the pavilion is primarily the result of the shared motivation of all the artists taking part: the common goal of showing solidarity with the government of the Republic and publicly announcing the critical situation Spain was experiencing to visitors and the media.
Paloma Esteban Leal