Juan Manuel Díaz Caneja

Palencia 1905-Madrid 1988.

He was a Spanish painter. His work is framed within the cubism, being characteristic in its theme the Castilian landscapes. The artists who influenced his work were Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso.

In 1923, at the age of 18, he moved to Madrid with the intention of studying architecture. To prepare for the drawing course he went to the workshop of the painter Daniel Vázquez Díaz, who introduced him to the avant-garde art that was developing at that time in Paris. He stayed for a while in the Residencia de Estudiantes but finally abandoned his architectural studies to dedicate himself body and soul to painting. He made friends with artists of the stature of the sculptor Alberto Sánchez and the painter Benjamín Palencia, with whom he travelled around the outskirts of Madrid in search of new artistic inspiration. Later, they were joined by figures such as Maruja Mallo, Alberti and Lorca, giving rise to what was later called the Escuela de Vallecas.

In 1929 he visited Paris, a sanctuary of cubism and avant-garde art worldwide; there he met Picasso's workshop and attended the gatherings organised by Ramón Gómez de la Serna in a café in Montparnasse.

Two years later, he returned to Madrid where he began a political/literary activity together with his friend Herrera Petere, publishing a single issue of a satirical magazine entitled "In Spain everything is ready for priests to fall in love". This magazine was marked by political demands with texts of Dadaist-Surrealist influence. 

In the post-war period Caneja found his maturity as a painter. He clung to the Castilian landscape, which he would never again abandon, as an omnipresent theme in his painting , since, apart from what this theme symbolised for him, he did not commit the painter to censorship. The bases of his painting will also be laid down: the Castilian horizon of the Gothic Fields, gentle hills, adobe villages that blend in with the land, threshing floors, vineyards; landscapes sometimes accompanied by round objects such as dunghills, loaves, Cézanne apples, peasants, reapers, etc., sparse, dry, aristate painting under which there is always architecture, a skeleton, a cubist geometry. He will not paint from nature, it will be in his memory where the forms, the colours remembered, reduced to ochres, yellows, greys, browns and pinks, can be glimpsed, something more than a landscape, an interior landscape.

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