Alfonso Daniel Rodríguez Castelao

Category: Writer, cartoonist, political activist
Birth Date: 30th January 1886 (†7th January 1950)
Birth Place: Rianxo (A Coruña)

Due to emigration, Castelao was brought up in a rich family and he began to study and finished Secondary Education in two years. In 1902, he registered for Medicine in Santiago. He took his degree in 1908 and between 1908 and 1909 he was a research student in Madrid. At the end of the year 1908, he went in for the First Humorist Exhibition in Madrid with two successful paintings. Between 1910 and 1915 he made a speech titled Algo acerca de la caricatura (Something about caricature) in different places and was finally published in Pontevedra. In February 1912, he made in Ourense his first individual exhibition. Shortly after he married Virxinia Pereira in A Estrada and settled in Rianxo to work as a doctor. That year he also collaborated as caricaturist in the newspaper El Liberal in Madrid. In 1913, his only child Alfonso Xesús was born. In 1915, he won the third medal in the National Exhibition of Fine Arts (Madrid) with the triptych Cuento de ciegos. A bit later, he gave up his job as a doctor. In 1919, he exhibited the fifty drawings of the magazine Nós in different villages and cities around Galicia, as well as in Madrid. He also published Arte e Galeguismo in A Coruña. In 1920, the magazines Nós was founded, being Vicente Risco the literary manager and Castelao the artistic one. As he travelled to France, he made works such as O Cubismo and those of the section Do meu diario, which were published in Nós. In 1922, the book titled Un ollo de vidro appeared in Ferrol and Castelao began his narrative production. In 1924, he made a speech titled Do Novo Espirito to become a member of the Seminary of Galician Studies. Together with Losada Diegúez, he founded the Choir of Pontevedra and in 1926, he published Cousas in A Coruña. He also became a member of the Galician Academy. In 1927 his son died, he was deeply affected and did not work for a whole year. In 1929 he published Segundo libro de Cousas in A Coruña and travelled to Bretaña (France) in order to study the crosstones. As a result of this journey he published the book As Cruces de pedra na Bretaña (Santiago, 1930). In 1930, he also published Cincoenta homes por des reás in A Coruña and O Galeguismo no Arte in Vigo. It was a speech that was read the Day of Galicia in the theatre García Barbón. As the Republic was proclaimed in 1931, he became a member of Parliament in the province of Pontevedra. In 1934, he published the book Retrincos with illustrations by Maside, Os dous de sempre and the definite publication in an only volume of the book Cousas. During the Civil War he lived in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. In 1937 he published in Valencia the volumes Galicia mártir and Atila en Galicia. In 1938, he travelled to Moscow and then to New York, where he published Milicianos. The he went to Cuba. He made a speech in La Havana in 1939 titled Galicia and Valle-Inclán, which was published in several American magazines and in a volume in Lugo in 1971. Dibuxos de negros dates from this year and was published in Vigo in 1970. From Cuba he returned to New York and from there travelled to Buenos Aires, where he definitely settled down. In 1941, he put on the theatre play Os vellos non deben de namorarse in Buenos Aires, he gave the lecture El problema de las lenguas (The languages' problem) and published O Estatuto de Galiza. Antecedentes e comentarios. In 1944 he published Sempre en Galiza and became the president of the Consello de Galiza, which was created that same year. In 1945, he founded the magazine Galeuzca.

 Work & Activities

ARTIST In 1910 he made a speech in the Culture Centre in Madrid titled Algo acerca de la caricatura. After travelling to France and Germany he wrote about his opinions in Do meu Diario, which was published in several issues of the magazine Nós in 1922 and 1923 and in another less-known lecture titled Humorismo. Dibuxo humorístico. Caricatura. Castelao's graphic art, humoristic and satiric drawings can be divided into two ages: the first one goes from the drawings published in Nós to Cincoenta homes por dez reás (published in A Coruña in 1930), his illustrations and those which are present in Cousas. Some of his illustrations in books and his oil paintings also correspond to this stage. In his most famous work Cousas da vida he showed his ability to portray people and attitudes. A good example of his oil paintings is the one titled Camiño da festa de Guadalupe, which is a part of the painting collection in the Galician Centre in Buenos Aires. The cripple, the beggars and the blind were his favourite characters for painting. Castelao suffered the social and economical situation of the peasants and the humblest people in Galicia. The second stage starts which the Spanish Civil War and he inspires in the political and war events. In his new volumes Galicia Mártir, Atila en Galicia and Milicianos two or three words are enough so that the drawings and figures can have a full meaning. The figures are perfectly shaped emphasizing the contrasts between light and shadow. In 1940 he drew a series of big drawings of blind people who lived in landscapes of Galicia. In 1931 Valle Inclán asked him to make the scenery for his theatre play titled Divinas Palabras, which was very successful in Madrid. In 1932 he made the sketches for Pimpinela, which would be later one of the scenic pictures in his play Os vellos non deben namorarse. WRITER Castelao started his narrative production in 1922 with the book Un ollo de vidro. Memorias dun esquelete, which was published in the collection Céltiga. The work is full of political and social satirical allusions. In 1926 the publishing house Lar published the first book of Cousas. In this book Castelao picked up nineteen narrative proses that had been published before in some newspapers or magazines. The second book of Cousas is a continuation of the previous one and consists of twenty-six proses different from the first one. It was published in 1929 in A Coruña by Nós. The narrations in Cousas are very short and they usually show rural or marine themes. Castelao wrote in a high-quality artistic Galician language. In 1934, the publishing house Nós printed in Santiago the story book Retrincos and Os dous de sempre, the only novel written by Castelao. The stories picked up in Retrincos seem to be autobiographical. They appear in chronological order according to his experiences. Os dous de sempre is a sort of picaresque novel, which was made by means of the juxtaposition of small narrative units, the chapters, which tend to be complete pieces with an ending. Os vellos non deben namorarse is the only contribution of Castelao to Galician theatre. This play was put on in Buenos Aires in 1941 and was first published by Galaxia in 1953. The play consists of three parts, a preface and an epilogue. The prologue is a commentary by Castelao about the play. Then there are three independent parts, which are different versions of the same drama; three stories of old men who fall in love and die. Finally the epilogue is a scene in a cemetery where the skeletons of the three old men talk about their experiences with love. POLITICIAN His political activity started about the year 1910 in the writing articles for the newspaper El Barbero Municipal, which he founded together with Xosé Arcos, Ramón Rey Baltar and Eduardo Dieste. On 18th May 1916 the Irmandades da Fala were founded in A Coruña. Castelao joined this tendency and participated in the Nationalist Assembly celebrated in Lugo on 17th and 18th November 1918. The members of the assembly declared themselves as nationalist, not regionalist and claimed the right to the autonomy of the Galician nation and the use of both Castilian and Galician language. Castelao also took part in the first propaganda act for the Galician Republican Nationalist Party, which had been founded in Ourense under Ramón Otero Pedrayo?s direction. Castelao identified himself with the party and supported the cultural unity of Galicia, its autonomy and universality. He founded the fortnightly newspaper Nova Galicia where many of his drawings were published. These drawings would be the basis for his ecumenical-diffusion volumes about war: Galiza Martir, Atila en Galiza and Milicianos. When the war was over he went to Argentina. He would develope there a great activity in favour of Galicia by means of lectures, articles and speeches. During this stage of his life he published one of his most important books: Sempre en Galiza.

 Other Interesting Aspects

The Galician Academy dedicated him ?O Día das Letras Galegas? (The Day of the Galcian Letters) in 1964.