Born in Uruguay to Spanish parents, Rafael Pérez Giménez (Montevideo, 1890 – 1929) had contact with the Spanish art scene since childhood, as his father was a painter. Perhaps for this reason he chose Barradas, his father’s second surname, as his artistic name. Self taught, Barradas collaborated with newspapers and magazines in Montevideo and Buenos Aires.
In 1913, he travelled to Italy where he met Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and the Futurists. Later in Paris he became interested in Cubism. After a short stay in Zaragoza, he travelled to Barcelona where he worked as an illustrator. There he visited his compatriot Joaquín Torres García and produced his first exhibitions. In 1918 he presented a new aesthetic innovation at Galeries Laietanes: Vibrationism, which combined Futurism, Orfism, and Cubism in representations of urban life with an intense and expressive chromaticism. In 1918 he moved to Madrid where he collaborated with Guillermo de Torre on avant-garde publications including the Manifiesto ultraísta vertical [Vertical Ultraist Manifesto] in 1920, which he illustrated with vignettes and drawings.
Around 1922 he adopted the aesthetic of the “return to order” and developed a new figurative painting style, Planism, characterized by a dark color palette, that he used to portray industrial workers. In the series Los Magnificos [The Magnificent Ones] he depicted popular figures at rest and repose. In 1928 he became ill and returned to Uruguay where he died the following year.