LUIS J. MEDRANOargentine visual artist Biography


Luis J. Medrano, Argentine visual artist, cartoonist and humorist, b. 1915, portrayed like few the spirit of Argentine society in his multifaceted oeuvre. Grafodramas, Medrano's most widely known work published daily in the tabloid La Nación from 1941 till his death in 1974, is a journey through the vicissitudes of life in Argentina during those critical years.

Humor, ever present in Grafodramas, goes hand in hand with criticism, almost always ironically expressed. His intention was not to moralize but rather kindly report Argentines' behavior, their virtues and defects.

Medrano also tried his hand at every kind of artistic expression he could: he was a journalist (graduating from the University of Indianapolis, USA), painter (creating series such as Galería Contemporánea [Contemporary Gallery] and Colección Suprarrealista [Suprarealist Collection], which may be viewed at this website), conference lecturer, and even TV anchor, presenting a micro-program on the local Channel 7, which showed his visual work in a groundbreaking media at the time.

His political commitment was an endless source of inspiration, at once oppressing. Medrano experienced firsthand the changes, often painful, of Argentina's political history and tried to spread tolerance and the need for peaceful coexistence through his work.

In the visual arts, his work is an inescapable reference when reconstructing Argentina's actuality between 1940 and 1970. The calendars he made for Alpargatas, a textile company, are a detailed record of the people and objects that animated Argentine life in those years. Although there are no characters in his work equivalent to the contemporary personalities of Avivato, Ramona or Patoruzú, Medrano depicted Argentine prototypes, which though unnamed are symbols in themselves. Even Julio Cortázar, in his novel The Winners, points out that one of his characters is very like Medrano's fat ladies in the Grafodramas.

"He was keen in perception but not spiteful or merciless in his observations; acute, but with certain tenderness; his was an odd way of making the human condition easier to bear." These words, delivered during a tribute after his death, summarize Medrano's contribution to Argentine humor.