This exhibition, which focuses exclusively on the critical period of sculptor Joan Rebull’s (Reus, 1899 - Barcelona, 1981) production, shows in all its conceptual and material diversity the work of a modern sculptor, demonstrating a clear political, aesthetic and artistic commitment in tune with his time. The exhibition focuses on Rebull’s production before the Civil War and there is a section dedicated to his drawings which are of a certain Abstraction linked to Surrealism.
Rebull's work shows an original artistic career, he participates in multiple movements and experiences and develops an elementary and archaic realism, which places him at the forefront of New Figuration.
Rebull began his career in the group Els Evolucionistes from its creation in 1918 and with minimal programme of dissidence of the official Noucentisme panorama; it manages to exhibit in spaces in institutions such as the Cercle Artistic de Sant Lluc and achieves a gradual diffusion and presence in the press.
A three-year stay near Paris (1926-1929) helps Rebull to distance himself from a suffocating political reality. During these years he contacts Picasso and spends time with intellectuals like Paul Éluard, while developing sculptural projects and participates in collective exhibitions in Spain. In 1929 he delivers a provocative lecture at the Centre de Lectura de Reus (Reus Reading Centre) where, through cryptic sentences and jazz music, he shows avant-garde attitudes and unveils his innovative ideas on the concept of sculpture.
In 1927 Rebull develops a synthetic realism, characterised by the hieratic, the purity of form and delicacy in modelling, which he continues with in other children busts. During these years he also experiments with classical themed reliefs and with original, small, female nude figures, with echoes to artist Henri Matisse.
On his return from Paris the focus is on Rebull’s political activity as a member of the provisional command of the Generalitat of Catalonia. In 1933 he has an exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art in Madrid and in 1938, during the Civil War, he is awarded the newly created Damià Campeny prize and National Sculpture prize, which officially establishes him as an artist, with works of refined classicism. The marked realism characterises works from a second French period, coinciding with the end of the war in Spain and the beginning of World War II.
The exhibition is an important recovery work of Rebull’s character and the catalogue that has been published for the occasion is the most prominent monograph analysing the artist's production with various materials during the Twenties and Thirties