Antonio Fuentes – Dedicated and Talented Artist

Antonio Fuentes was born in Tangier, Morocco, on 9 October 1905, and discovered his artistic talent at an early age, later being referred to as the ‘Toulouse-Lautrec of Tangier’. As a child he would sit and paint at the marble tables of the café of the hotel owned by the Fuentes family and by the age of thirteen was doing drawings for the Moroccan newspaper El Heraldo de Marruecos, going on to draw pictures for other publications such as El Nuevo Mundo and La Esfera. He later decided to focus his efforts on painting and developed the unique style he became known for.

Following his military service in Spain in 1925, Fuentes enrolled at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Art in Madrid, and later went to Paris where he spent countless hours painting at the La Grande Chaumière art academy – where many great contemporary artists have created memorable work. He also did a series of caricatures for La Semaine de Paris, which put him in touch with all the Spanish artists in Paris.

It was at this time Fuentes started to admire the work of Rembrandt and met Picasso at his first exhibition in 1930. In 1934 he moved to Italy to expand his horizons and continue his training, starting in Florence as the pupil of Felice Carena. He later enrolled in the Spanish Academy of Fine Art in Rome, while all the time providing the Spanish press with pictures for publication.

Always fairly reclusive, following World War II, Fuentes returned to Tangier and remained in his studio in the city’s old quarter, rarely exhibiting his work, but when he did, his work was praised by respected artistic and cultural critics. By 1973, Fuentes had totally isolated himself from society and devoted himself to meditation, with his work becoming more abstract. He was said to have enjoyed the freedom of dedicating himself to his work, without the pressure to commercialize it. He would sell his pieces to some buyers from his studio, if he considered the buyer to have enough class to own his work.

On 25 July 1995, Antonio Fuentes died in Tangier, the city of his birth, and often the source of his inspiration. A commemorative exhibition of his work was held on the one hundred anniversary of his birth, where his works from 1929 to the 1990s were displayed, revealing how his art evolved over the years, and the immense talent of an artist who never tired of creating beauty.