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This unsigned article is an editorial for the magazine El Mate, published by the Grupo Toledo Chico. It commemorates the February 1929 death of Rafael Barradas, an artist who lived in Spain for years. The article points out the merits of the Uruguayan artist, especially the ones bound to a social sensibility akin to that of the Grupo Toledo Chico. The text criticizes the fact that his work was largely unknown in Uruguay at the time. The local press had reported that his work had been vandalized. This article places emphasis on a period of his work that focused on images of impoverished characters and precarious settings. The social facet of Barradas’s work—its realist and sentimental facet—is the focus here. That aspect of his production is tied first to an article in the press reporting on an act of vandalism on a painting by Barradas, and second to the Grupo Toledo Chico’s leftist and socially committed ideology that defended local and traditionalist culture.


This issue of the magazine El Mate, the Grupo Toledo Chico’s publication, was dedicated to Rafael Barradas (1890–1929). The cover image is a painting from his “Hombres en el café” series, and the magazine itself contains never before published letters to the artist’s friend, Julio J. Casal (1889–1954), celebrated director of the magazine Alfar. The Grupo Toledo Chico rejects the notion that Barradas was one of the main advocates of the avant-garde in Spain—where he lived from 1915 to 1928 (his most active participation in the “Ultraist” movement was from 1917 to 1922)—to focus instead on the series of ecstatic figures in earth tones that Barradas began making in 1923. This document upholds Barradas as an artist who emerged far from habitual social circles with their fellowships, awards, and so forth. It argues that there is a tie between the Grupo Toledo Chico’s social sensibility in the 1960s and Barradas’s in the 1920s. This document describes Barradas’s vision of poverty, understood as violence, and associates it with the violence of vandalism enacted on his work in Uruguay.

[For further reading, see in the ICAA digital archive the following texts published by the Grupo Toledo Chico: “2ª exposición al aire libre en homenaje a Stalingrado,” issued by the Federación de Estudiantes Plásticos del Uruguay (FEPU) (doc. no. 1210566); “Ha muerto Felipe Seade lloran las paredes blancas” (doc. no. 1193080); and by J. Aroztegui, editor-in-chief of El Mate, “Llamado al espectador” (doc. no. 1195546), “Un mate para despedir el 66 y recibir el 67” (doc. no. 1194176), “Hacia un arte vernáculo y popular” (doc. no. 1198346), and “El XV Salón Municipal de Artes Plásticas” (doc. no. 1193049)].

María Eugenia Grau, Gabriel Peluffo
Archivo Museo Juan Manuel Blanes