Fine Art

Arturo Souto Feijoo

Spanish, 1902-1964

Still life

Oil on canvas
43 x 39 inches (109.2 x 99 cm)
Signed lower left: Souto


Private collection, Mexico City
Private collection, USA

Arturo Souto Feijoo, called Souto, was born in Pontevedra, on July 4, 1902. His father Alfredo Souto Cuero, a magistrate and painter, was his first teacher. Due to his profession, Souto spent his childhood in several Spanish cities. It was the city of Galicia, with its rural landscapes and busy sailors, that most influenced his inspiration for painting.

From 1916 to 1920 Souto studied at the Industrial School of Arts and Crafts in Seville and in 1922 he entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. A year later he married Carmen Alabarce Casanova, before doing his military sevice in Vigo. In 1925 Souto made his first individual exhibition at the Casa de Galicia in Madrid. He also participated in the exhibition of the Society of Iberian Artists at the Palacio de Velázquez del Retiro in Madrid after having joined the Manifesto of Los Ibéricos, a group of non-conformists opposed to the official academic art of the time. In 1926 and 1928 Souto traveled to Paris for the first time, where he was inspired by the modernism of Pierre Bonnard and Toulouse-Lautrec and then by Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical escuola. Later, he discovered Japanese art, which he reinterpreted with a very personal vision enriched by bright and rich colors. With Los Ibéricos, he participated in the exhibitions of Copenhagen (1932) and Berlin (1933).

Souto received the Rome Prize in 1934, a scholarship to the Academy of Spain in Rome where he remained until 1936. In June of that year he was in Madrid when the military rebellion that would provoke the Spanish Civil War took place, and he joined the activities of the Alliance of Antifascist Intellectuals, in the republican propaganda department, collaborating as an illustrator in El Mono Azul, The Red Ship, New Culture, Time of Spain or The Combatant. In 1937 he attended the II International Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture held in Valencia, and soon after he attended the Spanish Pavilion of the International Exhibition of Paris in 1937 where he was impressed by Picasso's Guernica.

In 1938 he exhibited in Brussels, where he was praised by James Ensor. After the civil war he moved to Valencia and from there he went to Havana, and later New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. These international travels exposed Souto to various art schools and styles which influenced his own unique style.

In 1942 he moved to Mexico, where he studied murals and painted a portrait of Diego Rivera. His painting became more neutral, with ethnic intentions and hieratic figures , influenced by Mexican muralists. Twenty years later, i n 1962 he returned to Spain, and made successive exhibitions in Vigo, Madrid, Bilbao and Santiago de Compostela, with little recognition. Disappointed, he returned to Mexico where he died on July 3, 1964. Today he is represented in museums across both Mexico and Spain. In 1984 the Bienal de Pontevedra featured an anthological exhibition of Souto, which was also repeated in 1988.

Our painting depicts a dynamic still life composed of large, quick brushstrokes and vivid colors. A white tablecloth is artfully draped along the tabletop, its many creases and folds adding dimension. A plate with four fish, two brightly colored bottles, a cobalt blue oil lamp, and six pears complete the scene, which is set against a vermillion backdrop. Greatly influenced by Fauvism, the artist created this beautiful balance by using complementary colors: green and red, blue and yellow, black and white, which give this work its vibrant and lively feel.