• Steven Heller

The Daily Heller: Resistance in Woodcut and Ink

Spanish-born Roma artist Helios Gómez (1905–1956) was among the most prolific of the left wing anti-fascist political graphic artists from the countrys Republican period, before Franco’s Falange Party Fascists overtook the nation. Gómez was first published in the anarchist newspaper Páginas Libres, and he also illustrated books by Sevilles political authors. In 1927, political disputes forced his exile to Paris. According to the French writer, poet and museum director Jean Cassou, Gómez “was an artist because he was a revolutionary and a revolutionary because he was an artist.”


Here are some examples of how the brush drawing and woodcut print was used to convey revolutionary polemics during a critical period of global upheaval and national politics -- against dictators. Gómez's work reminds one of Frans Masereel for its graphic verve, guts and power to stand against power.



In Paris he contributed to the Spanish exile newspapers Tiempos Nuevos and Rebelión, and to the weekly Vendredi. Gómez was arrested for taking part in a protest against the executions in America of the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, and was deported. He settled in Berlin in 1929, where he contributed to several publications, including the Berliner Tageblatt. At the end of 1930, with the overthrow of Spain’s rightwing dictator, Gómez returned to Barcelona, contributing to several journals and creating book covers and illustrations, mainly for left wing publications. He belonged to the Catalonian Alliance of Antifascist Intellectuals and was appointed Political Commissar of the UGT (General Workers Union) during the Spanish Civil War. Gómez also joined the fighters in Aragon, Madrid and Andalusia.


In charge of culture in the 26th Division, he designed the masthead and artwork of the newspaper El Frente, and organized the Durruti homage exhibition in Barcelona. At the end of the war, he once again went into exile in France, where he was interned successively at the concentration camps in Argelès-sur-mer, Bram and Vernet in the Ariège, before being deported to the French camp in Djelfa (Algeria), between February 1939 and May 1942.



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