Joaquín Torres-García: The Arcadian Modern

*Energía atómica (Atomic energy)*

Joaquín Torres-García. Energía atómica (Atomic energy)

Joaquín Torres-García. Energía atómica (Atomic energy). 1946. Oil on cardboard. 20 7/8 × 33 3/8″ (53 × 84.7 cm). Colección Guillermo Caballero de Luján, Valencia. © Sucesión Joaquín Torres-García, Montevideo 2015. Photo: Juan García Rossell

Narrator: Atomic Energy is inscribed with two dates: “1946” on the upper right, when the work was completed, and “1945” on the left, when World War II ended with the detonation of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Luis Perez-Oramaz: The work represents something like a ship, but at the same time, it represents something like a whale, like a huge monster that has a little eye on the top right angle, that has something like a mouth, that includes this anchor and this fish, which is a representation of Christ, therefore salvation, and the anchor that grounds us to the earth.

Narrator: Torres-García uses a basic geometric structure of vertical and horizontal lines accompanied by primary colors.

Luis Perez-Oramaz: However, he leaves these margins that transform this into a figure. So it is purposely contradictory to the doctrine of pure abstraction.

And this representational figure, by the dates and the title being inscribed within the painting is none but that moment of awareness about the proximity of mortality for all, that modernity, with all its wonder, has also brought us.

And it is particularly striking that this artist was obsessed with Arcadia. He was obsessed with the origin of the world, with the origin of civilization, with the possibility of having a link to that and that he's representing the tool that might be just the end of that world.He's depicting the apocalyptic tool in this painting.

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