Helios Gómez

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Biography

  “He was an artist because he was a revolutionary and a revolutionary because he was an artist.”

- Jean Cassou

      Helios Gómez is possibly one of Spain’s most famous graphic artists. Gómez was born in 1905 Seville Spain. He was of Romani descent. Helios Gomez was the initiator, founder and also the first president of professional draftsmen syndicate in Spain in 1936. The intent of the group was to defend the republic through political posters. He is considered as possibly one of the most emblematic figures in Spanish graphics.  Gómez immersed himself in all of the arts and was considered a painter, a revolutionist, an anarchist communist and a poet. He was born into a very poor family. In between 1920 and 1930 he formed a strong political conscience and developed his anarchist mentality. Barcelona and Seville became the center for anarchist and revolutionary ideas.

      His first works were published in the anarchist newspaper Páginas Libres and he also illustrated books by Seville authors such as Rafael Laffon and Felipe Alaiz. He had his first exhibition in 1925 at the Kursaal in Seville. From there on out he chose to direct all of his artwork towards his ideals. In 1927 Gómez was forced to leave Spain for political reasons and went into exile in Paris. There he contributed to the graphic art scene and contributed to Spanish exile magazines. He was later arrested at a protest and deported from France. He then lived in various places included Brussels, Amsterdam, Vienna and Berlin where he continued to hold exhibitions. After the fall of Primo de Rivera's dictatorship, at the end of 1930, Helios returned to Spain and settled in Barcelona and continued to contribute to several newspapers and creating book covers and illustrations for left-wing publications. In 1932 he was arrested for his political activism in Madrid and was sent to prison yet again. He was released on bail and settled in the USSR until 1934. Here his work wavered from his abstract figures to adopt a more political realism. Gómez returned to Barcelona in the summer of 1934 but was arrested again (no surprise!) in the autumn and charged with being a connection to uprising. He was released and fled to Brussels. He returned once again to Barcelona in 1935 and founded the group Sindicat de Dibuixants Profesionals which launched activist posters during the Civil War.  He also produced many drawings, paintings and illustrations on the war and he slowly started approaching surrealism.

      During the war he became a leading figure in the graphic movement against the Civil War. When the war ended a Gómez went into exile again in France where he was interned in concentration camps in 1939. He was released in 1942 where he continued to work towards his ideals and exhibited surrealist works and murals in Barcelona.Between 1945-46 and 1948-54, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Modelo prison in Barcelona, where he painted the oratory known as the Capilla Gitana. He was then illegally detained for four more years. Helios Gómez died in Barcelona two years after his release in 1956.


Works

El Capitalismo

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¡vieja arquitectura bamboleante!
el ensangrentado engranaje
de tu constitución
no triturará a la nueva
generación

El Verdurgo

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es la sangrienta cruz
del puñal dictatorial.
¡MARTINEZ ANIDO!
no se horroriza
cuando vuelve atrás
su sádica cabeza inquisitorial

La Ley

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prostituta tradicional del capitalismo, matrona heredera de unas bíblicas tablas con falsos simbolismos

Los Presidios

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larga pasión sin redención;
lenta consunción
en las grises galerías
de agonía;
horas blancas,
horas frías...

Check out a video on Gómez below!