In 1920, Arturo Souto moved to Madrid, where he took part in the Granja del Henar gathering and met the group formed by Hidalgo de Caviedes, Dalí and Sáenz de Tejada, among others. He enrolled in the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts and, while painting ceramics in Carabanchel to earn a living, he developed an artistic activity on paper focused on urban and prostitution scenes. His highly graphic style is determined by his contact with the Society of Iberian Artists, with whom he exhibited in successive years. He later collaborated as an illustrator in magazines such as La Esfera and Blanco y Negro.
His work is shaped around two aspects. On the one hand, the canvases, focusing on formal experimentation, with echoes ranging from Fauvism to expressionism, from magical realism to cubism. And, on the other hand, the images of social protest, the motifs of which are the streets of the big city. Both sides share the flat nature of the figures, their monumentalism and volumetric study, as well as certain themes, especially the female nudes and the traveling world of the circus and the chamarileros.
In 1934 he obtained a scholarship to Rome, from where he traveled frequently to Paris. Influenced by post-cubism, he began to alternate saturated color ranges with other more intense, dense, gesture-like brushstrokes. During the Civil War he worked as an illustrator and poster artist for the Alliance of Antifascist Intellectuals. During these years he was associated with the Os Novos movement, a group of Galician artists, led by Rafael Dieste, who opted for modernity.
After the war, exile took him to France, Cuba and the United States, before returning to Mexico in 1942. His paintings continued along the expressive path he had begun earlier, influenced by the Latin American muralists, with warm, earthy tones, monumental figures with a very rigorous composition and several scenes. In the fifties, his paintings became more relaxed, losing the nervous stroke of previous stages. Still life prevailed in a progressive abstraction. In the sixties he returned to the theme of women, the nude and Galician folklore, in which he abounded until his death in 1964.
Iván López Munuera