Raul Milian, Cuban (1914 - 1986)

Raul Milian

Raul Milian had no formal art training other than his work with Rene Portocarrero. His early works were nonobjective, highly intricate drawings; his later works depict the human form in an austere expressionist fashion. He exhibited 17 Ink drawings at the Pan American Union in 1976. He exhibited at the Sao Paolo and Venice Biennials and was awarded the silver medal at the third Biennial of Sao Paolo. He committed suicide by jumping off a balcony.

Cuba’s classic tortured artist is Raul Milian. Self-taught and original, Milian studied under Rene Portocarrero and used innovative methods to create a style all his own.

Milian was born in Havana and even though he was very near to Cuba’s art school Mecca, the San Alejandro Academy, he did not attend there. Instead, he taught himself his own unique style. Milian got a very late start in his artistic career, and didn’t actually begin to paint until 1952, when he was almost 40. He traveled Europe extensively, and perhaps picked up some of the ideas of the Cubists, the Spanish Futurists or the Nordic design school of Bauhaus along the way.

While Milian has been called an abstract artist, perhaps the best way to describe his work would be Graphic and definitely Modernist. Milian never used oil paint in his art, and always worked in ink or mixed media to create his gritty images. The message that Milian tried to convey in these pieces of art was one of a sensible man caught in the midst of a world of violence. His work clearly shows repetitions, be it through shapes or lines, and certainly convey a sort of madness.

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