Julio Rosado Del Valle: The Father of Contemporary Abstract Painting

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“Abstraccion” 22 x 30 Mix Media Collage 1970

For many art historians and collector, the decade of the 50s was considered the golden age in Puerto Rican Art. No other decade in Puerto Rican art history has been able to reproduce the caliber of artists like we saw in that decade. For example: Myrna Báez, Francisco Rodón, Rafael Tufiño, and Augusto Marín, among others.

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“Self Portrait” 1993 Oil/Paper 5″x7″

Francisco Rodón worked in the portrait territory, Lorenzo Homar had the title for Master Painter, and Julio Rosado was considered the father of the abstract movement in Puerto Rico, and I need to say it: what a TALENT he had for it!!! The kind of talent that will be very, but very hard to surpass by other artist in the future. Julio was a key figure in Puerto Rican art because he was among those who paved the way for innovative approaches and experimentation in painting. I consider him something special because, at that moment in time, Puerto Rico was being observed and evaluated by art critic and writer Marta Traba. She expressed within her writings that almost every artist in Puerto Rico, with the exception of few, was working in the same theme, which at the moment was “Costumbrismo”, over and over again; while others were doing what she called “the easy way out”, meaning they were imitating American art.  Julio Rosado Del Valle was clearly an exception to this critic.  On her book “Propuesta polémica sobre arte puertorriqueño”, she wrote that Rosado Del Valle was, perhaps, the only Puerto Rican painter of continental stature in Puerto Rico.

Now, let me show you an example of Julio Rosado’s work for 1959. You will see a glass cup in a simple black pattern of oil.

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La Copa
16 by 20 Oil/Board
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Signature

In my opinion, the composition of his work was superb, making a great integration of different colors in the pattern with black bold lines and simple elements of figurative abstract reasoning, while maintaining a modern abstract / “nice to the eye decorative pattern” LOL. I noticed that, as time went by, Julio Rosado’s technique didn’t change much, but his work started to look more colorful than his earlier work, where black was the predominant color.

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La Sandalia Serigraph

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Julio Rosado signing La Sandalia Serigraph in 1993

Did you notice what I meant about the integration of bold colors to his work? “Sandalia”, in 1993, had beautiful color patterns, while the next photo is a work from 1956, like I wrote earlier, using just a plain flat black.

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“Untitled” 30 x 22 Oil on Paper 1961
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“Pez Guanabana”14 x 12 Oil/Board 1979

If you ask me what style of composition I liked more, I would tell you that is a tough one to answer, but I think I would go with 1950’s paintings because I really do like the dark colors that Rosado used to work his pieces. But hey! That’s just me!

At the beginning of this blog, I wrote that it would be very hard to surpass Julio Rosado’s work in the future.  That’s because I think I can only mention one artist that has a brush stroke similar to Rosado’s, and his name is Carlos Santiago, a young talented artist from Ponce, Puerto Rico. Look at the next two drawings, made in crayons, and you may see a similarity in the composition of their work.

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Carlos Santiago

Notice the similarity between the out layers of the black lines in the main subject, and also between the figuration techniques used in both works. Once you see this, you can clearly see a pattern between both.

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Julio Rosado Del Valle

I want to share with you my favorite Julio Rosado Del Valle’s work.  It is not a huge painting, nor a very complex work. Instead, is a small and simple drawing on oil, with which I fell in love from the moment I saw it. What I love from this piece is the simplicity of the work; but still, the energy and vibe that emanates from this art is so and so positive, that makes it a little hard to explain. It’s just a relaxing image to look at. This is Rosado at his best because, in his works, as abstract as they may seem, you can sense that the final point emerges from the observation of nature; in this case, a woodpecker.

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If I was ever given a wish to meet a painter from the past, I would choose Julio Rosado Del Valle any day of the week!!! Sadly, I know that this will never happen because on September 20, 2008 Julio passed away to a better place.  But, like Banksy said in an interview in Europe: “A person dies two times in his lifetime; once when he takes his last breath, and the second is the last time his name is ever repeated again”. Well, you know what? Julio was so loved by the art world and the people of Puerto Rico, that his works are located in every museum around the Island, so it’s going to be very hard to forget the titan that he was. Also, Julio will live forever through his art legacy in private collections all around the world, and I can guarantee you that he will be remembered for many more generations to come in Puerto Rico, and through his children.

I highly recommend to every person that reads this blog to visit the different museums in Puerto Rico and live the magic of our talent through art. You will be surprised by what we are capable of doing!!!

Joey Medrano

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