Biography

Helios Gómez, born in 1905 in the Triana district of Seville, was trained at the Seville Industrial Arts and Crafts School, and at the town's Cartuja actory, as a painter and decorator on ceramics. His first works were published in the anarchist newspaper Páginas Libres and he also illustrated books by Seville authors such as Rafael Laffon and Felipe Alaiz. In 1925, he held his first exhibition at the Kursaal in Seville, and had another exhibition a year later at the Ateneo in Madrid and at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona. As he was strongly convinced of the urgency of political change, he joined anarchist groups, and decided thereafter to speak, write and paint according to

his chosen political principles. According to Jean Cassou, he was an artist because he was a revolutionary and a revolutionary because he was was an artist. In 1927, forced to leave Seville for political reasons, he went into exile in Paris. There he held exhibitions in several galleries and contributed as a graphic artist to the Spanish exile newspapers Tiempos Nuevos and Rebelión, and to the weekly Vendredi. He was arrested for taking part in a protest demonstration against the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti and deported from France. He then settled in Brussels where he exhibited, worked as decorator, and illustrated Max Deauville's book, Rien qu´un homme.In 1928, he left for Amsterdam, Vienna, then Berlin and travelled in the USSR for two months. En 1929, he settled in Berlín, where he held exhibitions, contributed to several publications, including the Berliner Tageblatt, and attended typography and interior design classes. At the beginning of 1930, the Socialist International (AIT) published his first album Días de ira Dias de Ira.-"Free art from representational conventions and make it live from its own dynamism; make the spectator feel the emotion of an idea thanks to pure abstract plastic art: that is in short my artistic aspiration, but, for this book, I have in part sacrificed my ideas on art, because I wanted to touch the people through art". Collection of 23 drawings (33x24 cm) and poems on the Spanish White Terror. Accompanied with an introduction by the Socialist International and with a foreword by Romain Rolland. Printed in Berlín in 1930 . After the fall of Primo de Rivera's dictatorship, at the end of 1930, Helios returned to Spain and settled in Barcelona, contributing to several journals, L´Opinió, La Rambla, La Batalla, L´Hora , Bolívar y Nueva España and creating book covers and illustrations, mainly for left wing publications. This was the year in which he published the manifesto Porqué me marcho del anarquismo (Why I am quitting anarchism) and joined the Comunist Catalano-Balearic Federation, part of the BOC (Bloc Obrer i Camperol, the Workers and Peasant's Bloc). He was expelled shortly afterwards because of his antidogmatic stand. In 1931, he joined the PDC and ilustrated Mundo Obrero. In 1932, he was arrested in Madrid for his political activism and was imprisoned and transfered to the Jaén prison. He was granted bail to attend, as the Spanish representative, the International Congress of Proletarian Artist, held in the USSR, to whisch he had been invited by VOKS. He seized this opportunity to settle in the USSR until 1934. During this period, he visited Leningrad, lived in Moscow, and exhibited at the Pushkin Museum in 1933. Public Art Editions published his second album, Revolución Española Revolución Española: (Spanish Revolution) Collection of 13 black and white drawings ( 25,7 x 17,5 cm ) Published by OGIS-ISOGIS Moscow-Leningrad in 1933. . His work departed from abstract figures to adopt a more politically committed realism, easy to decipher and whith a strong social content, but different from socialist realism, which he constantly criticised. He returned to Barcelona during the summer of 1934, but was arrested again in the autumn in connection with the workers uprising in Catalonia. He again left for Brussels where he published, at the beginning of 1935 his third album, on the 1934 events, entitled Viva Octubre Viva Octubre: Drawings on the Spanish Revolution: Collection of 24 black and white drawings ( 27,5 x 24,2 cm.) Published by E.P.I. in Brussels in 1935 with a foreword by Jean Cassou. Anoter edition published in catalan by Gráficos Alfa in Barcelona the same year. .
He returned to Barcelona in 1935, and following the legalisation of left-wing organisations, with other artists of the Els Sis group, in 1936 he founded the Sindicat de Dibuixants Professionals, (The Union of Professional Designers), which was to launch the activist poster movement during the Civil War, thanks to intensive production of anarchist and republican posters. He also produced work for many publications as well as paintings on the war, approaching surrealism. At the beginning of the Civil War, he took to the barricades in the defence of Barcelona and joined the Aliança d´Intel·lectuals Antifeixistes de Catalunya( the Catalonian Alliance of Antifascist Intellectuals). He was appointed Political Commissar of the UGT (General Workers Union), and as such organised the Ramón Casanellas Column, sailed with the Bayo expedition to free Ibiza and Majorca, and joined the fronts in Aragon, Madrid and Andalusia. In charge of culture in the 26 th Divison, he designed the masthead and artwork of the newspaper El Frente, and organized the exhibition in homage to Durruti in Barcelona.
At the end of the war, he went into exile in France where he was interned successively in the concentration camps in Argelès-sur-mer, Bram and Vernet in the Ariège, and then was deported to the French camp in Djelfa (Algeria), between February 1939 and May 1942. Back in Barcelona in 1942, he founded the short-lived group LNR (Liberación Nacional Republicana) Republican National Liberation) and the Casa de Andalucía. (the House of Andalucia). In 1948, he exhibited works of a surrealist style in the Arnaiz gallery, in Barcelona, and created murals for decorating various venues, the Colón jazz club and the San Jaime University Hall of Residence in Barcelona.
Between 1945-46 and 1948-54, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Modelo prison in Barcelona, where he painted the oratory known as the Capilla Gitana.
In spite of a liberation order signed in 1950, he was illegally detained for four more years and he died in Barcelona two years after his release in 1956.

Publications

Jordi Font, Gabriel Gómez, Amado Marcellán, Caroline Mignot, Jean Lemaître, Miguel Tilniav, José Luís Jiménez. Helios Gómez, la révolution graphique, A.C.H.G./ Association Mémoire Graphique, Barcelona, 2013, 256 pages, (21 x 28 cm.).

This book presents graphical folders by Helios Gómez: Días de ira (Day of Wrath), Revolución erspañola (Spanish Revolution) , Viva Octubre and Horrores de la guerra. (Horrors of war). It includes a selection of drawings from the press and numerous illustrations for publishers.
The biography and work of this unique illustrator are critically analysed by different authors.
Published in French, with testimonials from friends and colleagues of Helios Gómez in the original language with translations. Print run of 500 copies.

(Available from our association for €30 + postage)

 

Helios Gómez, Días de ira, Associació Cultural Helios Gómez, Barcelona, 2012. 28 pages, (23,5x33 cm.)

 

 

A reprint of the album published in Berlin (1930) and Barcelona (1931). 25 black and white sheets ready for framing with poems by the author. Introduction by Romain Rolland.
Edition in Spanish.

Print run of 100 copies.

(Available from our association for €60 + postage)



Gabriel Gómez, Caroline Mignot (Introd.), Helios Gómez, la revolución gráfica, A.C.I.M., F.I.M., A.C.H.G., 230 pages, Barcelona, 2009 (21x28 cm.).

 

 

This book presents more than two hundred India ink drawings published in the press from the 1930s and a selection of color posters and book covers.
Spanish Edition.

(Available from our association for €25. + postage)

Gabriel Gómez, Caroline Mignot (Introd.),Helios Gómez, poemas de lucha y sueño, 1942-1956, A.C.H.G., 400 pages, Barcelona, 2006 (21x21 cm.)

Helios Gómez was internationally known and valued as an artist in the 1930s basically for his black and white political drawings. The unpublished poems and drawings of this splendid 400-page book with numerous illustrations, allow you to glimpse the brilliance of the soul of this artist held captive in the Modelo prison of Barcelona during Franco's regime.
Introduction in English, Romani and Catalan; poems in Spanish.

(Available from our association for €35 + postage)



Gabriel Gómez, Caroline Mignot, Jacques Lemaître, :Helios Gómez, Visca Octubre, Museu de Granollers,
A.C.H.G, Museu d'Història de Catalunya, CarCob (Bruxelles), 101 pages, Granollers, 2005. (22x30,5 cm.)

The meeting of Helios Gómez with Jean Fonteyne in Brussels led to the publication of the album Viva Octubre (Long Live October) in 1935, consisting of 24 drawings about the Spanish Revolution, reissued in this catalog. Two articles situate the context of this publication and a few reviews summarize the biographies of these artists and intellectuals.

Published in Spanish, Catalan and French.

(Available from our association for €20 + postage)

Bibliography

Fundación Pública Andaluza Centro de Estudios Andaluces, Consejería de la Presidencia, Junta de Andalucía (Catálogo de exposición): helios gómez, dibujo en acción, 1905-1956. Fundación Pública Andaluza Centro de Estudios Andaluces. Sevilla, 2010.

IVAM Centre Julio González [Catálogo de exposición]: HELIOS GÓMEZ 1905-1956, Generalitat Valenciana, Valencia, 1998

Ursula Tjaden: Helios Gómez Artista de Corbata Roja, Txalaparta, Tafalla, 1996.

Carles Fontseré: Memòries d'un cartelista, Portic, Barcelona,1995.

Ursula Tjaden Das grafische Werk von Helios Gómez Eine Untersuchung zur politisch engagierten Kunst Spaniens in den 20er/30er Jahren Scaneg Verlag München 1993

Ursula Tjaden: Die Hülle zerfetzen Helios Gómez 1905-1956 Andalusier Künstler Kämpfer, Elefanten Press Verlag GmbH, Berlín, 1986.

Juan Manuel Bonet [Introd. Catálogo de exposición]: Art Contra la Guerra, Ajuntament de Barcelona, Barcelona, 1986

© Associació Cultural Helios Gómez
Email: associacio@heliosgomez.org