Óscar Domínguez

San Cristobal de la Laguna, 1906 - París, 1957

The only son of an important landholder of banana plantations in Tenerife, he became orphaned by his mother at the age of two. At three years of age, he got the disease popularly known as the “Illness of San Vito”, thus losing his speech and being laid out on his bed with involuntary spasms. It was not to be until he was five that he recovered totally. He was not a dedicated student who had to repeat the school year on several occasions.

In 1927 his father was to send him to Paris to work in the family fruit exports company, but he dedicated himself body and soul to the Paris night life. In 1931 his father died and he was to find himself in an economically complicated situation. He then began to work as a publicist. He returned to the island to do the military service and exhibited his first pictures in the Fine Arts Circle of Tenerife.

On finishing the military service, he established himself in Paris because he felt that the city cared for him as an artist, and this stimulated him into going on with his art. Although Oscar Dominguez passes through several artistic phases, it is in surrealism where he was to stand out as a painter.

In 1934 inclusively he contributed to this movement a new technique called Decalcomania which consisted of pressing together in a random manner sheets with ink on them.

As from 1935, he established an art workshop in Montmartre and made friends with Dalí, Max Ernst and André Breton, participating in the surrealistic collective exhibition which was celebrated in the QuatreChemins gallery. Also he organized the first exhibition of this group in Tenerife.

He participated on several occasions in exhibitions in London, Copenhagen and Tokyo. His works are shown in the “Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism” exhibition in the Modern Art Museum of New York. After his first attempt at suicide, he installed his second art workshop, but this time in the neighbourhood of Montparnasse. In his works is reflected the imaginative, violet and tormented spirit of his life.

The resistance to remaining still in one sole style, gender and inclusively artistic discipline takes him through being sculptor, potter and even a clothes designer.

His surrealist paintings are to be found from 1929 – 1938, which was the so called cosmic stage comprising landscapes and volcanic formations, with landslides. In 1938 – 1939, he passed through metaphysics with influences of De Chirico (1942 – 43), and Picassian influence (1944 – 48).

In the last years, in the 50s, he showed a certain attractions to abstracts. In 1955 a large exhibition was organized with his works in the Brussels Fine Arts Palace.

His depression crises, the chronic illness which he suffered (Elephantiasis) and his uncontrolled fondness of alcohol (after which he was in several ethylic comas and was recluded in psychiatric centres), all made him decide to put an end to his life in 1957 in Paaris, where he was buried in the cemetery of Montparnasse.

Since his death, his works have been exhibited in great museums and galleries all over the world – the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, the Madrid National Art Museum of Reina Sofía, the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Atlantic centre of Modern Art in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the Leeds City Art Galleries of London, the Leandro Navarro of Madrid, ……

Self taught, versatile and innovating, he is considered one of the greatest exponents of the historic Spanish vanguard which grew in Paris during the first decades of the 20th century.

Exhibited Works

  • “Femme allongée”, gouache on cardboard, 1948-50.