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Diáspora.10 Galician Artists in Latin American Exile (1930-1970)

Diáspora.10 Galician Artists in Latin American Exile (1930-1970)


20 May 2005 - 11 September 2005
First floor
From Tuesday to Saturday (including holidays), from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo / Fundación Luis Seoane, A Coruña
Carlos López Bernárdez

Works on exhibition

This exhibition displays 72 plastic works -47 paintings and drawings, 23 photographs and 2 sculptures- together with the uninterrupted screening in the exhibition hall of the film Galicia, by Carlos Velo. Besides, 4 screens will be showing book illustrations by Castelao, Souto and Seoane in a digital format and an interview with Carlos Velo. It also comprises the bibliographical exhibition of 43 documents. In order to portray the complete work of one of the artists, MARCO will organise in the conference hall a series of films devoted to Carlos Velo as an additional activity to this exhibition. Films will be screened on three consecutive weekends, starting on the 26th May.


  • MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo (20th May - 11th September 2005)
  • Fundación Luis Seoane, A Coruña (28th September 2005 - 8th January 2006)



One of the outlines of MARCO's programmes from the very beginning is focused on providing an annual exhibition based on a research project exploring the recent past of plastic art work in Galicia. Its target is to encourage historical reviews and the revival of artists or Galician artistic movements tightly related to the languages of avant-garde. The outcome of this approach was the opening exhibition Atlántica, 2002-2003, followed by A creación do necesario. Aproximación ao deseño do século XX en Galicia in 2004. In 2005, research interests will be focused on the important consequences the Latin American Diaspora had on the work of the ten most important Galician artists of the twentieth century.

The history of Galicia is inevitably linked to the term Diaspora. The exodus of Galician people has been an ongoing trend since the end of the nineteenth century, a process that speeded up with the civil war exile, and finished off with the massive emigration in the sixties. Such a flight of people, not only exiles but also refugees and emigrants, had immediate consequences to Galician culture. There was a brain drain of outstanding figures on the fields of art and literature, who otherwise could have carried out prolific work in their own country. The side effect in the long term was the influence of this Diaspora in the artistic work of the descendants of the Galician people born outside the country.

By means of research carried out into Galician culture abroad -in its plastic, literary and film dimension- this exhibition aims to provide new keys for the better understanding of the history of Galician art in the twentieth century. It gathers the data required to put together a different historiography, which could serve as an alternative to the official academic rhetoric, taking into account the significance of exile and its consequences to the development of Galician culture. Further to any social-political theory, the goal is to put on record the way in which the political and social-economic situation of a given community plays a key role in the emergence and shaping of a cultural identity. Nowadays, it is not possible to think about Galicia without taking into account its Diaspora.

The aim of the exhibition is not to take stock of the Galician somehow related to the cultural movement in the exile -there would be a long list of renowned artists, such as Francisco Vázquez Díaz "Compostela", Federico Ribas, Xosé Caridad Mateos, Laxeiro, Abreu Bastos, Mario Granell, Mercedes Ruibal or Leopoldo Novoa, among others. However, the main goal is to approach for the first time a collective phenomenon that has never been studied as such, through a deep insight into ten significant artists. Besides, it must be emphasized the fact that, though the exhibiting artists are widely known, this is the first all-embracing view taken on the effect of the Diaspora in their plastic art work. Moreover, this exhibition will bring to light forgotten artworks of these artists -some of them for the first time- showing their social commitment in the times prior to the Spanish Republic and during the Civil War.

The reflection of three historical times (pre-war, war and the American imprint) are the essential criteria followed for the selection of the exhibited artworks. Thus, three are the main subject matters suggested by the artworks and the accompanying bibliographical data: the war experience, the homesickness felt for the country left behind, and the influence the new land had on the vision of these artists on the realities of America.

As for the installation, it is organized around three main topics: on the first place, 47 selected artworks-including painting, sculpture and photography-; on the second place, 43 graphic documents -posters, books, leaflets and reproductions of books in a digital format- providing information about the different activities undertaken by these artists during the Diaspora, stressing the relationship between plastic and literary artists. It puts special emphasis on the exile, because during this period most of the books could only be published as a result of the joint efforts of writers and artists. Some of these creations stand as the best representations of Galician culture in the twentieth century. Among all the cultural activities carried out by the exiles, it is remarkable the literary movement that arose in Buenos Aires, of which Luis Seoane and Lorenzo Varela -commemorated on this year's Day of Galician Literature- are excellent representatives. Finally, the third topic of the exhibition will explore cinema and photography by Galician artists in Latin America, including photographs by José Suarez and a series of films by Carlos Velo screened on the conference hall.



    Ángel Botello
    Arturo Souto
    Carlos Velo
    Eugenio Granell
    Isaac Díaz Pardo
    José Suárez
    Luis Seoane
    Manuel Colmeiro
    Maruja Mallo

Curatorial text

Since the nineteenth century, the process of making up a Galician art movement has gone hand in hand with the idea of reconstructing collective identity and the concept of nation -represented under different denominations depending on the historical time: province, region or nation. Thus, in the past 150 years, all the discussions and references have linked the idea of an own painting and plastic art to general cultural development, in which literature and language play a major role.

It has to be taken into account that the genesis of a Galician nationalist movement plays a key role in the understanding of this process, because it had an influence even on those that were not related to it. What this movement seeks is, in the words of Xoán González-Millán -who follows Jürgen Habermas' approach-, "the creation of a Galician national public space". In the case of plastic arts, this movement has tried to promote the use of Galician in literature, theatre or research into various aspects of the Galician reality. In this regard, the best example is the Seminario de Estudos Galegos, founded in 1923.

This process, aiming to build a national cultural space, accelerated during the first years of the twentieth century, and only slowed down due to the Civil War break. During the years prior to the conflict, substantial attempts were made to renew the plastic art scenario: from Castelao's artworks and reflection on arts, to the so-called Os Novos or Movemento Renovador da Arte Galega, a movement for the renewal of Galician Art, represented by Maside, Souto, Colmeiro, Torres..., as well as those artists from A Coruña gathered around the avant-garde magazine Alfar (Francisco Miguel, Huici). Along with their work, and in order to round it off, there are many attempts of theoretical thought by leading intellectual figures, such as Rafael Dieste.

While Galicia's cultural network, built during the pre-war period, is now completely ruined, there is a significant presence of Galician artists and intellectuals in the Republican Spain, such as Castelao, Arturo Souto, Rafael Dieste, Lorenzo Varela... All of them supported various cultural projects and reflected the socio-political zeitgeist in their work, illustrating and editing cultural publications. Some of them are especially addressed to Galician people, such as the magazine Nova Galicia, published in Barcelona between April 1937 and July 1938. This magazine portrays illustrations by Castelao, particularly his Álbumes de guerra, as well as pictures by Manuel Colmeiro, Arturo Soto -his Debuxos de guerra-, Luis Seoane -his Estampas da traición-, and Ramón Gaya, a remarkable non-Galician artist.

The graphic work carried out by Castelao during this period resulted in his well-known albums Galicia Mártir and Atila en Galicia, both published in Valencia in 1937, and Milicianos, published in New York in 1938. Arturo Souto's work is very remarkable as well. His oil paintings portray the war, but he is better known for his sketches and engravings for propaganda purposes, frequently published in magazines.

When the war finished, hundreds of thousands of people living in Galicia had no alternative but to set off, especially for America, establishing an important intellectual centre. These exiles settled in countries that had traditionally taken emigrants in, such as Argentina, Uruguay or Mexico, even though exiles could be found all over the continent.

Argentina became an essential emigration centre, taking outstanding figures in, such as Castelao and Luis Seoane. And it was in Argentina where the Consello de Galicia was founded in 1944. Writers and painters could be found among Galician exiles: Rafael Dieste, Lorenzo Varela, Maruja Mallo, Manuel Colmeiro, Castelao, Luis Seoane, Arturo Cuadrado, etc. A few years later, artists such as Laxeiro or Isaac Díaz Pardo would join them.

Mexico was another important centre of Galician exile. This country welcomed figures such as Luís Soto, the film maker Carlos Velo or the painter Arturo Souto. Other centres of Galician exiles were the United States and the Caribbean, where painters as Eugenio Granell or Ángel Botello found shelter.


Carlos López Bernárdez

Carlos López Bernárdez has a degree in History, in the branch of History of Art, and is a lecturer in Galician Language and Literature. His publications include a large number of titles on Galician avant-gardes, as well as several critical reviews and translations. He is the current deputy chairman of the Asociación de Escritores en Lingua Galega and member of the editorial board of the magazines Ensaio, Revista de teatro de Galicia e norte de Portugal, and Contemporánea, published by the Asociación de Escritores en Lingua Galega.