Joaquim Rodrigo

  • Born 1912 in Lisbon, Portugal
  • Died 1997 in Lisbon, Portugal

Self-taught Portuguese painter Joaquim Rodrigo began as a professor of agronomy in 1938. In 1951, he started showing his work in exhibitions of the collective Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes (SNBA) (National Fine Arts Society). During the 1950s, after seeing work by Victor Vasarely and Piet Mondrian during a visit to Galerie Denise René in Paris, he quickly abandoned figuration for an abstract style. He exhibited in the Primeiro Salão de Arte abstrata (First Salon for Abstract Art) at Galeria de Março in Lisbon in 1954, the 4th Bienal de São Paulo in 1957, and the Brussels World’s Fair (also known as Expo ’58). Rodrigo changed course in the 1960s as Pop art took off in Europe and the United States, by developing a non-naturalistic, symbolic style that blended figuration and abstraction. Various critics have asserted the influence of aboriginal and other indigenous practices on Rodrigo’s works. His paintings from this time contain sharp criticisms of colonialist politics. M.L. (1961), for example, with its red-soaked palette and African-inspired forms, references the murder of Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba. In 1972 Rodrigo received his first solo show—a retrospective at the SNBA.

Artworks by Joaquim Rodrigo in the exhibition