Rafael Barradas, Arrow man | The morning

To commemorate the 20 years of its inauguration, the Latin American Museum of Buenos Aires (MALVA) has chosen the sample of the great Uruguayan artist Rafael Barradas. The organization was in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the National Directorate of Culture of the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the National Museum of Visual Arts of Uruguay, under the direction of Enrique Aguerre, curator of the exhibition.

The exhibition focuses on one of the periods from 1913 to 1923, during the artist’s stay in Barcelona and Madrid, and brings together more than 130 works, including oil paintings, watercolors and works on paper. The place his family occupied is highlighted, both in life and in Barradas’ work, which is reflected in the number of portraits he made of his mother, sister Carmen, brother Ignacio, his wife Pilar and his sister-in-law Antoñita. The music composed by his sister Carmen was a dialogue between them, an exchange of different sensibilities. The manufacture of toys was carried out with his mother and Carmen.

Barradas was born on January 4, 1890 in Montevideo, into a family of Spanish emigrants. He has two brothers, Antonio, who will dedicate himself to literature under the pseudonym Antonio de Ignacios, and Carmen, an important pianist and composer. He did not have a formal artistic training, but he did have the influence of his father who initiated him in the cultural environments of Montevideo. In a way he is self-taught. In 1908 his first drawings were published in the press –El Tiempo, La Semana and Bohemia–, an activity to which he would dedicate his entire life, and in 1910 he exhibited at the Moretti y Castelli Gallery in Montevideo, the first of the four exhibitions that will be done before traveling to Europe. Exhibits the work, “The Emigrants”, figures that impact by volume and heaviness.

In 1913, he founded the newspaper Monigote with a group of friends, in which they published their satirical drawings of the bohemian city of plastic artists, writers and theater people.

Wanting to know what was known about art movements in Europe, that same year he made the trip thanks to the generosity of the tenor Alfredo Medici, a friend who shared his scholarship with him.

He travels a year between Milan and Paris, but chooses Spain – which is on the fringes of the First World War – as a country of residence, like many other artists (for example, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Albert Glrizes, Metzinger, Olga Sacharoff, Francis Picabia), and also because many of his compatriots were in Mallorca and Barcelona. It was established in 1914 in Barcelona. He set out on foot to Madrid, but halfway down he fell ill and was taken in by a family of Aragonese peasants whose daughter, Simona – “Pilar” -, would become his wife the following year. He lives in Zaragoza, collaborates in the Paraninfo magazine and exhibits at the Lawn Tennis Club. He began to interact with important personalities of the Spanish cultural and artistic scene such as Zuloaga and Guillermo de Torre.

In 1916 his family moved from Montevideo to Barcelona and Barradas reunited with them, settling in this city during this first stage, a city that was emerging as a nucleus of avant-garde art, entering the most active cultural circles. The following year he became friends with Torres García, 18 years older than him, who was struck by the young man’s vitality. In 1936, years after the death of Barradas, Torres García, in a text that he would dedicate to him in his “Constructive Universalism”, would expose the importance that friendship had for him and the deep complicity that united them, reflected in the correspondence between 1918 to 1928. Together they will join the avant-garde proposals of Joan Salvat Papasseit and will have the collaboration of the gallery owner Josep Dalmau, a friendship that will last for many years.

Aragonese miller. Oil on canvas. 1924.

In December 1917 he exhibited, together with Torres García, at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona and in 1918 he exhibited individually at the Galerías Layetanas and illustrated together with other international avant-garde artists –Robert Delaunay– in avant-garde magazines such as Art Voltaic and Un Enemic del Poble. In this exhibition the critics of the time see him as an innovator in the field of painting, they call him a revolutionary cubist, pointing to the influence of the Italian Futurists. His art still produces misunderstanding. Travel to Madrid in search of better opportunities. He begins to collaborate with the Pages toy house, where his mother and Carmen work, who hires him as an illustrator of children’s stories. Little by little the children’s world will be a constant in his artistic production.

He meets the art critic José Francés, who introduces him to the Eslava theater entrepreneur, Gregorio Martínez Sierra, and the leading actress Catalina Barcena, initiating a collaboration in editorial and theatrical activities, creating the scenographies, costumes, drawings for posters, brochures and theater hand programs. He meets the company’s leading actress, Catalina Bárcena, to whom he dedicates many drawings. A year later, he made the costumes for Federico García Lorca’s first play, “El curse de la mariposa”, produced by Martínez Sierra. Around 1920 in Madrid, he exhibited at the Athenaeum, and a caricature with a comic facet, clownism, emerged because of his passion for the circus world that, deep down, hides a shrewd criticism. The theater offers you multiple and diverse areas of artistic development. He won awards as a set designer and as a costume designer. It is a new expression of his literary and pictorial creation. Barradas always considered himself a literary man in the first instance.

He meets again with Guillermo de Torre, who introduces him to the Ultraist movement, illustrates the group’s magazines, and the Vertical Ultraist Manifesto. Meet the sculptor Alberto Sánchez, who thanks to his influence comes into contact with avant-garde art

As of 1922 his painting returns to figuration, but in a personalized way by characters that are genuinely his own. This change is consolidated with his departure the following year, to Luco de Jiloca, Teruel, where he makes an important series of portraits of local characters who have to withstand the harshness of life and the earth, figures that impose that only the geometrized contour of the face gives them shape, in which only the eyebrows stand out. In 1925 he traveled to Bordeaux and Saint Jean de Luz, in the south of France, on his way to Paris, a trip that would not materialize. Make drawings of marine themes and men of the sea … Barradas praised the lower classes, peasants, workers or men of the sea, for the monumentality of the plastic as represented.

He exhibits alongside a large part of the avant-garde artists in the first major exhibition of the Iberian Artists Society at the Palacio de Velázquez del Retiro, held in Madrid.

In 1926 he settled in Hospitalet del Llobregat, where he painted the houses and people in his daily surroundings, and landscapes of the neighborhood of his city, which resemble his memories of Montevideo.

In 1928 he participated in the collective exhibition Manifestación Pictórica de Vanguardia. Meet Marinetti and take part in a tribute exhibition to the futurist. Galerias Dalmau organizes three exhibitions for you.

Economic problems and his poor health will be the cause of his return to Uruguay in 1928. Upon his arrival he is honored at the Solís Theater in Montevideo. He died on February 22 of the following year. “Can Dalmau” pays him posthumous tribute by throwing a wreath of flowers into the sea in the port of Barcelona, ​​with the words of the poet Juan Gutierrez Gili.

1 WEB retrato de pilar Rafael Barradas Portrait of Pilar Google Art Project
Portrait of Pilar. Oil on canvas. 1919.

Barradas, a short life nourished in art

Barradas liked to contrast opinions with all the characters in the cities he lived in. He organized discussion gatherings that kept his interest in knowing the concerns of the moment. In Montevideo he frequented El Café Británico, El Polo Bamba and El Ateneo. Since his meeting in Barcelona in 1917 with Torres García and Joan Salvat Papasseit, he has attended the “Mon Repos” gatherings in Terrassa and later those in the back room of the Galerías Layetanas. In 1921, in Madrid, he created his own gathering at the Café de Oriente, frequented by Federico García Lorca, Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí, Ramón Gómez de la Serna, Guillermo de Torre, and Norah and Jorge Luis Borges, among others, and attended to the gatherings of Gómez de la Serna. At the same time, he attends the gathering of the writer Rafael Cansinos at the Colonial Café, frequented by the Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro and the Andalusian painter Vazquez Díaz. In Hospitalet de Llobregat, in 1926, he founded the Ateneíllo. Important cultural figures come there, such as García Lorca, Sucre, Dalí, Díaz Plaja, Gasch, Gutierrez Gili and his sister Carmen.

France and Italy will be the milestones of his life that will mark the path towards the break and the creative freedom of his art. Spain will be where he will consolidate in art all that he has absorbed from a Europe in the process of change. The impact of coming into contact with the creators of Futurism, Carlo Carrà, Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, and Gino Severini, who had been living in Paris since 1912, is evident in his work. He was surprised and dazzled by the dynamism of the new way of life in cities, transport, cars, traffic, the incessant movement of people in their daily life, the advertisements in a waste of producing light sensations that impact on the individuals; It is a whole accumulation of sensations that produce in his retina a new language that he will call “vibrationism”, with which he narrates the modern city through geometric lines of different colors that define superimposed images, a language to which Torres García and other Spanish plastic artists such as Celso Lagar.

He was a great draftsman. The illustration of children’s books stands out, their lines are fresh and the colors add that joy and candor to reach the children’s audience; Let’s remember the scenes from “Little Brother Tim”, or for books by famous authors that he edits for the Estrella Library: Dickens, Rodenbach, Turgueneff, Lope de Vega, etc.

Most of his work was painted in Spain. It was the catalyst for the path of rupture and freedom for artists such as Salvador Dalí, Benjamin Palencia, Alberto Sanchez, and Federico García Lorca among others. His contribution was decisive for avant-garde art.

2 web Garcia Maroto y Garcia Lorca
García Maroto and García Lorca. Oil on wood. 1920.


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Rafael Barradas, Arrow man | The morning

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