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Visit Uruguay through the art of Torres-Garcia

Joaquín Torres García was a Uruguayan painter, sculptor, muralist, novelist, writer, teacher and theorist born in Montevideo in 1874. His art career that spans over 500 lectures, 150 books and countless artwork in different mediums started in 1981 when he emigrated to Catalunya, Spain (homeland of his father). He studied in Barcelona and among other highlights of his career in Europe, he collaborated with Gaudí in the stained glass windows for Sagrada Familia cathedral.

HI I'm Laura Moraiti, an artist and illustrator from Uruguay (pronounced "you - rue - why") - a tiny country in South America. When invited to the Around the World event, I knew it was a fun chance to share about my country through art.

If you've never been to Uruguay, here's a few fun facts:

  • Our way to speak Spanish is very similar to Argentina's, and very different than other South American countries
  • Uruguay has the fame of being a tiny country… But we aren't very different in size as Spain, Germany, France or the UK and are larger than the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.
  • The vast majority of our tourist destinations are located in the Atlantic Ocean / Rio de la Plata coast (located in the south)
  • We're divided in 19 "departamentos" which are similar to provinces
  • Football is the most popular sport here, our main stadium was built in 1930 and it's called "Centenario" as a homage to the signing of our Constitution 100 years prior.

For today's journey I wanted to show you the art of a Uruguayan artist that I personally feel very connected to (even if we existed in very different moments in time).


Joaquín Torres García was a Uruguayan painter, sculptor, muralist, novelist, writer, teacher and theorist born in Montevideo in 1874. His art career that spans over 500 lectures, 150 books and countless artwork in different mediums started in 1981 when he emigrated to Catalunya, Spain (homeland of his father). He studied in Barcelona and among other highlights of his career in Europe, he collaborated with Gaudí in the stained glass windows for Sagrada Familia cathedral.

While in France in 1930, Torres García developed "Art Constructif" a style he later developed into the Constructive Art current, a unique combination of Cubism, Dada, Surrealism and Abstraction among others.

In Uruguay, ‘El Taller Torres-Garcia' was the start of many Uruguayan artist's careers — collective talent that turned the workshop into a powerful Uruguayan art movement of its own.

Torres García pieces for kids are also beautiful, and show his sensibility towards the young minds, having on the forefront of the creation process how kids approach art, play and the world.

This year, before the entire Coronavirus pandemic, we took a short trip to Montevideo. Of course I knew the Torres García museum existed, and it was located in Ciudad Vieja… But I tried not to overschedule our weekend trip with a 4-year-old even if my entire artist path could be touched with this visit.

Turns out we were walking through Ciudad Vieja and I spot a Torres García mural high up in a wall across the street… I turn my head and about 10 meters ahead the museum was expecting us. Open and taking visitors too!

We went in and all I could do was stand in front of "El Pez" with my jaw wide open. It was bigger than I thought, the texture was so evident and the brushstrokes were very visible! What called me from Joaquín's body of work was the love that was palpable in each tiny doodle.

I'll attempt to make a very simple study of his style and show you my process, while also featuring elements I love, such as family, the simplicity of nature and art.


What you'll need

Torres García art features primary colours, black and white - using white only to fill areas or make markings and using black to fill areas and do the line work.

In this case I grabbed the blue from the Classics, and then crimson, yellow and pastel blue from the Special Colours to have an extra blue to contrast. I'll be painting over a boarded canvas. 

Using this colour palette you can try to make a similar design with any art supplies you have!



Sketch


Torres García features geometric shapes heavily and to build the structure of the piece but he wasn't just about geometric shapes: his pieces incorporate traditional items, people, and even hearts, bottles or fishes. Boats, cows and working men, all stripped down to the essential geometric shapes.

I tried to make a piece relevant to me, so during the intuitive sketch process I ended up drawing:

  • Family of 3 to represent my own
  • Family of "horneros" a bird that builds its nest with mud and twigs in a circular shape
  • A tree
  • Sun and sunset
  • Moon and shooting star
  • Flying birds
  • Houses
  • A pencil and brush

The lines made without a ruler and trying to block out smaller shapes that connect with each other and change colors when crossing another line


Colour blocking

I started with the sun, made it yellow and then moved to another colour and shape to try and escape my desire to follow rules and colour everything in the colour is supposed to be. In this case it's not about realism but extracting the essence, so it's OK to use unnatural colours to paint a person or an animal. 


Try not to use gradients, shadings or patterns, solid shapes and contrasting colours is the language of most of J.T.G. pieces (and I followed this concept in my study).


Continuing with the colouring process I realized at various points I needed to further divide a space so the colours wouldn't run into each other. For these places, lines that were already dividing spaces were very helpful and kept the design consistent.


Line work


Lining the work with black is the last big step (the last bit would be clean up!).

Use a size of nib that can remain consistent throughout the design without overpowering the smaller details - in this case I went with 1mm even if it would have been easier to do with 3mm.

Adding words or numbers and some symbols was also a part of Joaquin's style, using concepts that don't explain the piece but act as another layer of meaning.

I added "Arte - Vida" which translates to "Art - Life", and 2020 to mark this year that held so much challenges and changes for every one of us.

Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed this study and getting to know my favourite artist! 

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