Xul Solar

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Xul Solar was a renowned and prolific Argentinian painter, who is known to be one of the most innovative, influential and creative artists Argentine has produced. Xul Solar was actually a signature adopted by Oscar Agustin Alejandro Schulz Solari (his real name) to sign his works, it means ‘the light of the sun’.

Xul Solar was born as Oscar Agustin Alejandro Schulz Solari on December 14, 1887 in San Fernando, Buenos Aires. His father, Elmo Schulz Riga, was German while his mother was Italian. Oscar received his basic education in Buenos Aires, he was also trained as a musician. Later, he joined the faculty of engineering where he pursued his education in architecture, however, he never completed his degree. After leaving his studies, Oscar did a series of minor jobs and even worked as a school teacher, but he wasn’t content with the life that was laid out in front of him, he craved adventure. And thus, on April 5, 1912, Oscar embarked the ship, ‘England Carrier’, which was destined to go to Hong Kong.

Oscar got off the ship in London, and from there he decided to travel to Turin. Sometime later, he returned to London and joined his family in a trip to Paris. Oscar did not stay in Paris for long, he left for Turin once again, then to Genoa, and finally to his mother’s birthplace, Zoagli. Over the next years, despite the outbreak of WWI, Oscar immersed himself in extensive travels, and he visited cities like Marseilles, Florence and Tours. When the WWI came to end, Oscar was serving at the Argentine consulate in Milan.

It was in Milan that he first encountered his lifelong friend and Modernist painter, Emilio Pettoruti, came under the influence of the works of Paul Klee and discovered Dadaism. In 1916, Oscar adopted the pen-name of Xul Solar, and in 1920, he showcased his work, in collaboration with sculptor, Arturo Martini, at his first major exhibition that was held in Milan.

Oscar became an active member of a group founded by young painters, ‘Martin Sierra’, which include painters like Emilio Pettoruti and Norah Borges. In 1924, he showcased his work at an exhibition of Latin American artists, in Paris. The same year, his travelling days as a wanderer came to an end, and he settled in Argentine, where he began to take a great interest in portraying the traditional Argentinian culture. Xul’s talent was largely self-taught and influenced by his travels and the individuals he encountered on his journeys. His art exuded a spiritual aura, and a captivating combination of philosophy and different cultures portrayed in bright, exuberant colors, shapes, geometric symbols and plain figures. Xul used letters and graphic signs in his painting, and this led to the creation of a pictorial language, ‘Criollismo’.

Xul began experimenting with watercolors, tempera and occasionally, he used oils in his paintings. His work showed the influence European styles had on his art along with his own unique and distinctive style. From 1930 to 1940, Xul created remarkable and iconic landscapes and architectural designs that focused on Theosophy, mysticism and astrology. During the years that followed, Xul travelled the world extensively, holding successful art exhibitions in all the art capitals of the world, like Paris, Milan and London among many others.

Just before his death, a major retrospective exhibition was organised to honor his work at the Musee National d’Art Moderne, in Paris. He passed away on April 9, 1963, at his house in Tigre, Buenos Aires. Some of his highly acclaimed and most famous works include, ‘Paisaje con Monumento’, ‘Dos Anjos’, ‘Entierro’, ‘Casas en Alto’, ‘Muros Biombos’, and ‘Mi Pray Per To Min Guardianjo’ among many others.

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