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His canvases, prints, illustrations, drawings and posters express images of our land, environment, traditions and the figure of the common Puerto Rican worker that have been all too familiar too him since infancy.

Rafael Tufiño

was born on October 30th 1922, in Brooklyn, New York. When he was little, his family relocated to Puerto Rico. He lived in the area of La Perla in Old San Juan.

The havoc of poverty made him feel for the island in a certain way, not only as a consequence of the Great Depression in North America in the 1930s, but because of the political situation and colonial dependence of Puerto Rico. Scenes and faces of those who have given up on daily life would spring up later through Tufiño’s touch to the canvas, wood, paper, and silkscreen.

Already as a pre-adolescent, he was discovering his magnificent talents, painting commercial signs in Don Juan Rosado’s workshop, in Puerta de Tierra, helping to support his household. In 1943, before World War II, he was recruited, like thousands of Puerto Ricans, to serve in the US Army, assigned to Panama. Three years later he returned to New York and from there he decided to march on to Mexico, fertile ground for big artists with international fame, (Rivera, Orozco, Alfaro, Siqueiros). He enrolled in la Academia de San Carlos, taking courses in drawing with Rodríguez Luna, and painting and printmaking with Chávez Morado, Leopoldo Méndez y Alfredo Zalce.

In 1950, Rafael Tufiño returned to Puerto Rico and formed part of the Taller de Artes Gráficas (Graphic Arts Workshop) of the Community Education Division. That same year he collaborated with the organization of Centro de Arte Puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican Art Center), a cornerstone history of graphics in Puerto Rico. After a few months, Tufiño received a prize for his painting La Perla, in the Concurso de Arte Puertorriqueño, celebrated in March 1951.

Later, he started workshops at the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, founded in 1957 and directed by the prestigious Lorenzo Homar until 1973. It was the beginning of many other awards and triumphs, from the city and other cultural institutions, recognizing the work of Tufiño as authentic expressions of Puerto Rican nationality.

His canvases, prints, illustrations, drawings and posters express images of our land, environment, traditions and the figure of the common Puerto Rican worker that have been all too familiar too him since infancy. In addition to these characteristics, the work of Tufiño is distinguished by the force of color and line, the fact that it’s so Caribbean, and his tight concept of composition and equilibrium. His pictorial and graphic creations are undoubtedly a reflection of Puerto Rico’s soul.

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