Castellanos, Luis

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Luis Castellanos

Madrid, 1915

Madrid, 1946


An artist with a brief but intense trajectory, Luis Medina Castellanos was born in Madrid in an artistic environment. At fourteen, he entered the Municipal School of Industrial Arts. Thanks to the grants and subsidies awarded by this school, he participated in many summer courses traveling through Castilla, Galicia, the Basque Country, Aragon, the Balearic Islands and Portugal. During this period, his production had a certain surreal quality. His work changed when, at just sixteen, he grew interested in the new art, coinciding with the arrival to Madrid, in 1933, of Uruguayan painter Joaquín Torres García, who introduced him to new perspectives and became a teacher and a friend.

He then participated in the Constructive Art exhibition of Madrid’s Salon d’Autumne. The show was put on by artists from the Constructive Group, founded by Torres García and including Manuel Ángeles Ortiz, Germán Cueto, Díaz Yepes, Julio González, Maruja Mallo, Mateos, Moreno Villa, Benjamín Palencia and Rodríguez Luna.

Despite his young age, in 1934, he had a solo exhibition in the Ateneo de Madrid for which he gave a talk entitled “Soviet art today”. Few critics covered this event. Guillermo Torres wrote in Issue 28 of La Gaceta del Arte: “After a vaguely surrealist approach, Castellanos has moved on to abstract and constructive painting. Bidimensional surfaces, i.e., without depth, symmetrically divided into rectangles and spaces, very light but originally colored”.

After the Uruguayan artist’s return to Montevideo, he collaborated frequently with Maruja Mallo, Benjamín Palencia and Alberto Sánchez. He was part of the first School of Vallecas and was involved in the second one as well. He introduced the interest in the golden ratio, influenced by his own translation of Luca Pacioli’s book Divina proportione. His interest in the problems posed by the golden ratio led him to study the transcendence of this element in the work of artists such as Seurat, Juan Gris and other painters from the Paris School.

Between 1935 and 1936, he produced several murals and decorations in a very personal style. He created Constructivist works, which he alternated with clearly figurative compositions. This last direction would dominate his work from then on. He joined the group ADLAN (Friends of the New Art), a Catalan artistic movement founded in Barcelona in 1932 by Joan Prats, Josep Lluís Sert and Joaquim Gomis with the goal of promoting avant-garde art.

In the year of his death, 1946, he exhibited his work in the Museum of Modern Art of Madrid and gave the talk entitled “Reality and Realism”, in which he differentiated two reality systems in paintings: “local-temporary reality and reality without place and movement. Reality that captures appearance and reality that infiltrates permanence. Reality consisting of data and reality formed by rules”.

Isabel Menéndez