Painter, printmaker, illustrator, publisher, graphic designer, cultural organiser… The multiple roles in which Luis Seoane stood out, and the vastness and quality of his work, make it almost impossible to have his whole legacy on display in one place. Throughout the years, Luis Seoane’s work has been exhibited on several occasions, at his Foundation and at art centres and museums like Valencia’s IVAM, Santiago de Compostela’s CGAC, Vigo’s MARCO or the Fundación Eugenio Granell. It has also been included in group exhibitions on the historical avant-garde movements in Galicia and Spain, and on cultural life in exile at the University of Zaragoza, A Coruña’s Museum of Fine Arts, the University of Santiago de Compostela, the Picasso Museum in Malaga, etc. All those exhibitions contributed, to a greater or lesser extent, to achieving two things: first, to respecting Seoane’s wishes of having his work be accessible to as many people as possible in order to spread the knowledge of Galician culture and art; secondly, to realising one of the missions of the Fundación Luis Seoane, which is to educate the public about the creative universe of such a unique artist.
The pieces that make up the collection on display have been carefully selected from the foundation archives, each of them a perfect example of the themes, techniques, formats and art practices with which Seoane built his own creative universe. The main purpose of the exhibition is to educate. It is suitable for those visitors that already know and admire his work –offering them a chance to rediscover pieces like the magnificent portrait of British actor Robert Atkins, dressed as his character of Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, that Seoane painted in 1949 during his London stay–, and for those that have only known Seoane as a painter and printmaker but are unaware of his other work, like his tapestries, book design or murals.
The exhibition includes some one-of-a-kind pieces: a small law textbook that Seoane filled with his first drawings when he was a university student ca. 1932; the renowned book of illustrations Homenaje a la Torre de Hércules, which New York’s American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Pierpoint Morgan Library chose as one of the ten best illustrated books of the 1935-1945 decade, alongside Buffon’s Histoire Naturelle illustrated by Pablo Picasso; his sketch for the mural El Nacimiento del Teatro Argentino, which is still visible presiding over the lobby and staircase of the Teatro General San Martín in Buenos Aires; his landscapes of the Argentine Precordillera, seascape paintings, abstract experimentation… All of them are pieces where one can see the themes and obsessions that characterise his work: sailors, peasants, Galician Romanesque architecture, popular art and Galician traditions, the female presence, the integration of the arts, the fight for a Galician national art within the parameters of European avant-garde movements, the Bauhaus…
Lastly, the exhibition highlights Seoane’s publishing work through a series of examples that occupy its central space, surrounded by the rest of his work. Those display cases show the origin, evolution and recognition of a designer who we now see as astonishingly modern, whose cover art pieces are evidence of his evolution as an artist, from the simplicity and the subtleness of his first illustrations for Nova or Buen Aire, to the explosion of colour and the coexistence of figuration and abstraction that became so characteristic of Botella al Mar, and finally the use of abstraction in the highly schematic covers he produced for Citania.