Biography of Rafael Barradas (1890-1929)

Rafael Barradas.

Painter and Illustrator Uruguayan, born in Montevideo on January 7, 1890 and died on February 12, 1929 in the same city. He made most of his artistic work in Spain. He proposed a new aesthetic concept, the vibrationism, and he was considered one of the foremost representatives of the ultraist movement.

He received the joy of painting from his father (who is Spanish, as his mother) and as a child became acquainted with the plastic language. It is not known that you receive any systematic learning, so it is considered a self-taught.

His artistic work was always linked to their intellectual curiosity and, thus, took part in the gatherings that were organized in his hometown, Montevideo, with intellectuals like Frugoni, Florencio Sánchez and Lasplaces, among others. This was the beginning of his fondness for these informal meetings, but vital, that at the end of the 19th century gave the possibility to communicate and exchange ideas in an environment of freedom to artists and intellectuals.

His pictorial work was always accompanied by the drawing and caricature and, from a young age, collaborated as Illustrator in magazines of Montevideo and Buenos Aires. In 1912 he held his first exhibition together with Guillermo Laborde, which presented a series of watercolors; towards the end of that same year he presented an exhibition of caricatures, genre that cultivated with great success.

In 1913 he founded El Monigote, a publication that satirized the cultural environment in which the artist was immersed. That same year undertook a tour of Europe and eventually settled in Spain. His first residence established in Barcelona, where it was linked to Joaquín Torres García, compatriot of yours and also painter, with whom he exhibited in the Dalmau Gallery. During his stay in this city he frequented artistic gatherings and met Spanish poets, critics, and artists linked to the forefront.

In 1917 exhibited in Madrid, at the time that carried out numerous graphic works in Barcelona.

In 1918, he made his first individual exhibition in which proposed an aesthetic concept that he himself was baptized, as indicated above, with the name of vibrationism. It was then when Rafael Barradas was received by the ultraist movement, with which he collaborated in numerous magazines and he is considered one of its most important representatives.

In 1920 he left Barcelona to move to Madrid, where he was hired as a draftsman in the star library, for which numerous editions of classics illustrated. His work was not limited to illustration and painting, he developed an intense activity as a scenographer, costume designer and designer of posters for the theatre of art. He organized his own gathering at Café Orient, place, receiving regular visits from those who became great exponents of the universal, such as Dalí, Buñuel and García Lorcaculture. At this time he collaborated with Borges in boards magazine and was appointed artistic director of the magazine Alfar.

After this intense activity in his years in Barcelona and Madrid, he decided to move in 1923 to the village of Luco de Jiloca, where his painting a more realistic phase began. There she began the series of A-team, in which he portrayed popular characters.

In 1924, back in Madrid, resumed his work of Illustrator, this time for the publishing house Espasa Calpe and the Revista de Occidente. A year later he painted a series of marinas and watercolors after a trip to San Juan de Luz, on the espanola-francesa border. That same year he was awarded the Grand Prix of theatre at the international exhibition of decorative arts and industrial of Paris.

Again he left Madrid to settle in Hospitalet de Llobregat, a town very close to Barcelona; in his new residence held a series of natural landscapes and was frequently visited by intellectuals and artists.

From his earliest work, Barradas showed great sensitivity to color and a unique capacity for synthesis, which was used in his illustrations and cartoons (the emigrants from 1912 and García Lorca and another of 1920, both at the National Museum of Visual Arts in Montevideo, Uruguay). In his painting always strongly emphasized drawing, which preserves the vitality and expression of the Enlightenment on the canvas (man in the tavern of 1922, the A-team series.) National Museum of Visual Arts in Montevideo, Uruguay). His latest pictorial works are a rigorous construction and the color is limited to a nuanced palette of gray (Miller Aragonese 1924, belonging to the A-team series. National Museum of Visual Arts in Montevideo, Uruguay).

Already ill, returned to Montevideo, where he was honored at the Teatro Solís. He died on February 12, 1929.


Barradas exhibition: anthology 1890-1929. (Zaragoza, Diputación, 1992).

Garcia SILKS, Pilar: Joaquim Torres García i Rafael Barradas: diàleg escrit (1918-1929). (Barcelona, 1994).

JARDÍ, Enric: Rafael Barradas in Catalonia and other artistes that passaren the sea. (Barcelona, 1992).

LUCIE-SMITH, Edward: Latin American art of the 20th century, (Barcelona, Ediciones destination, 1994).