Fine Artists: Oscar Dominguez 1968-1980

"The Bullfight" Oscar Dominguez surrealist artwork of a bull and bull fighterOscar Dominguez was a Spanish painter. He was associated with the Surrealist movement in the 1930's and early 1940s. Dominguez depicted a rich fantasy world of strange beasts and eerie landscapes using the combination of a realistic style and automatic painting. Automatic painting was a popular Surrealist device in which the artist worked directly from the subconscious, without pre-conceived ideas. The technique is said to have been invented by Dominguez.

Born in San Cristóbal de La Laguna on the island of Tenerife, Oscar Dominguez spent his youth with his grandmother in Tacoronte. Dominguez started painting landscapes at a very young age, mirroring his father, who was an amateur painter. Oscar Dominguez devoted himself to painting at a young age after suffering a serious illness which affected his growth and caused a progressive deformation of his facial bone frame and limbs.

Dominguez went to Paris at 21 where he first worked for his father, helping deliver products from the family farm to the central market of Les Halles. Oscar Dominguez worked for his father during the day and spent his nights drinking in cabarets. Oscar Dominguez benefited from his time in Paris and began to frequent some art schools, working in the Free Academics, the Spanish Painters School in Paris. Oscar Dominguez then visited galleries and museums and was quickly attracted by the works of Dali, Tanguy and Picasso. Two years later, in 1923 Oscar Dominguez began to paint his first surrealist paintings.

At 25 Oscar Dominguez painted a self-portrait full of premonition as he showed himself with a deformed hand and with the veins of his arm cut. Oscar Dominguez chose to kill himself 27 years later by cutting his veins. In 1933 Dominguez met André Breton, a theoretician of Surrealism and Paul Eluard, known as the poet of the Surrealist Movement. Oscar Dominguez developed close friendships with both men and together they wrote many texts on painting.

Spanish Surrealist artist Oscar Dominguez painting ""Homage to Manolette"The following year Oscar Dominguez became an official member of the Surrealist Group. In his painting "Homage to Manolette" (shown here), we see a bull with a massive body and a tiny head confronting the slender but unflinching figure of the toreador, Manolette. The bull has been simplified into a series of dynamic curves which extend aggressively across almost the whole surface of the canvas. The bull fighter with his red cloak creates a vertical barrier on the right side of the painting. In this work Oscar Dominguez explores his Spanish roots in a style indebted to his fellow countryman Pablo Picasso. Like Picasso, Oscar Dominguez used the contest of man and bull as a symbol for the struggle between reason and passion.

Oscar Dominguez showed his work in the Exposition Surréaliste de Copenhague in 1935 and then at the exhibits in London and Ténériffe in 1936. During this time, Oscar Dominguez invented a procedure of "décalcomanie" which he perfected during his employment for Max Ernst. Décalcomanie is a decorative technique by which engravings and prints may be transferred to pottery or other materials. The surrealist Oscar Dominguez (referring to his work as "decalcomania with no preconceived object") took up the technique in 1936, using gouache spread thinly on a sheet of paper or other surface, which is then pressed onto another surface such as a canvas. Black gouache was originally used in Dominguez's practice, though colors later made their appearance. Also in 1936, Oscar Dominguez participated with some surrealist pieces at the exhibition "Art Fantastique, Dada et Surréalisme", at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Spanish Surrealist Painter Oscar Dominguez painting "El Drago" "The Dragon"Oscar Dominguez continued to participate in many of these exhibitions up until things break off with Breton. In his poetic climate, he receives the admiration of Dali and in particular Tanguy. However, slowly, Oscar Dominguez summits to the influence of Picasso, who fascinates him. In 1949 Oscar Dominguez's graphic period is simplified to extremes. Shapes and objects are minimalized and their surfaces are filled with a clear, flat-tint color. It is an aired technique that finds itself in a large number of works. It is also at this time that he paints tapestry cartons.

"The Dragon" (shown here) illustrates the same influences surreal highlight found in many of Oscar Dominguez's  previous artwork, such as the symbolic landscape Dali cutting and processing of objects and figures. In this table, besides the piano we are the dragon that gives title . This tree is a symbol of the Canary Islands to which Dominguez pays homage in several  of his works. The bottom of a female body , lying under the piano in sexually explicit attitude , it blends with the tree roots. A dragon perches on his dream a lion, one of the most recurrent surreal figures .

In 1955 one of the most important exhibitions dedicated to Oscar Dominguez was held at the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles. Then there was another organized by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris in 1972 where 15 of Oscar Dominguez's paintings were featured. Oscar Dominguez's 1937 oil painting "The Infernal Machine" sold for $ 404,375 on June 8th 2000 at Drouot-Montaigne in Paris. Through his short life Oscar Dominguez made a lasting impression on the art world. His surrealist style is both captivating and thought provoking.
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Oscar Dominguez
Spanish surrealist painter.  "El Drago" "The Dragon" ""Homage to Manolette"