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Joaquin TORRES GARCIA (1874-1949), Locomotora y aserradero - 1943

oil on cardboard, 54 x 66,5 cmsignature and date lower left: JTG 43

Joaquín Torres-García was born in 1874 in Montevideo, Uruguay. In 1891 his family returned to Spain, first to Mataró and then to Barcelona, where he enrolled in the Escola Oficial de Belles Artes, La Llotja. During his formative years, he frequented the café Els Quatre Gats, where he met Pablo Picasso and Julio González, thus becoming familiar with modern art. At the same time, he collaborated with Antoni Gaudí. In his early years, Torres-García painted landscapes with neoclassical figures, strongly reminiscent of Puvis de Chavannes. From 1917 onwards, he took more freedom with representation and his work came closer to cubism. 

 

The artist never stopped traveling during his career, drawing on his encounters and participating in the various artistic scenes that crossed his path. After a stay in Italy between 1922 and 1924, where he discovered and was influenced by Futurism, he settled in Paris from 1926 to 1932, the period when his work evolved most significantly. In 1928, he befriended the painter Theo Van Doesburg, with whom he maintained a long correspondence. The following year, he founded the Cercle et Carré group with Michel Seuphor, which brought together constructivist artists reacting to the omnipresence of Surrealism. 

 

Nevertheless, Torres-García's paintings maintain a link with the reality that surrounds him, of which the artist offers an increasingly personal vision. The year 1929 saw the appearance of a language reduced to the essential, which he wanted to be universal, between cubism, neoplasticism and surrealism. This new idiom, from which signs of almost symbolic significance emerge, is often reminiscent of immemorial scripts. 

 

His paintings - still lifes, urban views, churches, railways, and harbor landscapes - eliminate all perspective, and show the world in its simplest and most authentic form. The theme of the city occupies a particularly important place in his work, inspiring him in Barcelona, New York, Paris, and Montevideo, among other places. His interest in means of transportation, the train in the case of the Locomotor and aserradero, recalls his taste for travel, which he made a way of life. In his urban canvases, the artist integrates fragments of words that are rendered illegible, thus contributing to the impression of tumultuous cities that they convey. The absence of perspective, the juxtaposition of motifs and the division of the image into planes characterize the pictorial style for which he is best known, a kind of figurative constructivism, of which Locomotora y aserradero is an emblematic example. 

 

The work was created after Torres-García’s definitive return to Uruguay in 1934, where he actively participated in the dissemination of modern art, especially through the creation of a workshop for training in constructivist techniques, the Taller Torres-García, also known as the School of the South.