Manuel Viola (Zaragoza, 1916 – San Lorenzo del Escorial, Madrid, 1987) began his career as a poet in Surrealist circles in Barcelona, where he also produced a number of collages in the style of Max Ernst. His social commitment led him to become a Political Commissar within the International Brigades, linked to the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM) [Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification].
He was exiled in France and enlisted in the Foreign Legion, joining the Resistance. He also participated in the clandestine market for works of art. He began his pictorial trajectory in Normandy, shortly before the conclusion of World War II. Once he arrived in Paris, he achieved success at the Salon des Suríndépendants with figurative works that featured powerful colors, close the Abstract Expressionism of de Kooning.
He returned to Spain in 1949. During this new stage his paintings were characterized by the influence of Informalism and included great contrasts in light and shadow, demonstrating the veta brava [wild streak] style. In 1958 he joined the El Paso group with a style that garnered international recognition consisting in a material Abstract Expressionism based on chiaroscuro. At the end of the 1960s and during the 1970s he produced ceramic murals and continued to paint.