Óscar Domínguez

(La Laguna, Tenerife, 1903 – París, 1957)

Pájaros mecánicos

1952

gouache and Indian ink on paper

49.6 x 64.9 cm

Inv. no. 2701


In Paris Domínguez came into contact with the Surrealism movement, and especially with André Breton; some years later he was expelled from this group. His relationship with Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), with whom he struck up a close friendship, is obvious in this work, from a schematic phase of his career combining reminiscences of Surrealism (a style to which he always remained faithful) and of Cubism. It is characterised by a more classical structuring of the composition, more austere colouring and thick lines defining the forms.

The dedication written by Domínguez to his great friend the poetess Valentine Penrose, “Pour ma très chère amie / Domínguez 52”, does not necessarily mean that the work was produced at that date. However, if we accept it as valid, we are in a postwar context and at the darkest and most uncertain stage of the conflict in Korea.

On a background of dark, leaden clouds executed in watercolour, three flying objects are arranged, pointing towards their opposing destinations and brushing past each other in the air as if flying in formation towards their sinister objective. These mechanical birds occupy the entire space. In the composition, curves, proscribed in favour of straight lines, are present only in the wheels, which give the whole picture an impression of speed. The schematic heads of these bird-planes, reduced to bare essentials, accentuate the aggressiveness of the image.

Birds are a recurrent theme in Domínguez’s work and also appear in Pájaros aviones (1950). In this work a heavy, warlike atmosphere is palpable.