MANUEL MARTÍN GONZÁLEZ - Artists - Tenerife

Manuel Martín González

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The work of the illustrious painter Manuel Martín González (1905-1988), who is considered to be one of the Canary Islands' best landscape artists, is on show in the museum on the second floor of the Regional Ministry of Culture of his home town, Guía de Isora, on Calle La Vera. Inside the exhibition area, the first gallery houses his advertising work from his time in Cuba in 1923-1932, whilst the second gallery contains a large sample of his landscape work. Also on display are a variety of the author's personal belongings, including notes and sketches, as well as some of the awards he has been given, photographs and books.

Manuel Martín González was one of Guía de Isora's most prominent figures. Born into a humble family in that town on 14 June 1905, he was the eldest of nine brothers and sisters and learnt the basics of literacy in one of the area's few schools. Shortly afterwards he began to show a talent for drawing when he used the scarce means available to him to draw and paint, with constant encouragement from his teacher. He received training in Santa Cruz, in spite of his modest background, and at the age of 18 he emigrated to Cuba, where he spent nine years of his life (1923-1932) developing mostly advertising-related work thanks to the experience he gained while he was at the Romero lithography workshop, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

His time as a commercial artist in Cuba was very successful: his customers were usually commercial companies who would pay for advertising to help sell their goods. Of these firms, we could mention “La Casa Grande”, who entrusted him with a number of projects. There were also various magazines who requested his compositions, and he even became artistic director of the magazine “Tierra Canaria”, in which his drawings often referred to his birthplace. Due to the difficult situation in Cuba in the wake of the Crash in 1929, followed by the Great Depression, the artist decided to return to Tenerife. He came with his wife and settled into the second stage of his career, turning the Island's landscapes into the sole focus of his paintings.

As his new "landscape" episode began, Martín González chose to explore the entire archipelago in an effort to better transmit its visual essence by physically seeing it and conveying it with his own feeling. As a main feature, his work is largely associated with El Teide and the scenery of Las Cañadas. He would paint under assignment by official institutions and private customers, and considered his paintings to be the children he never had. He passed away in La Laguna in 1988.

His work was purchased by Canarian customers and some European visitors, and it has even travelled to such distant locations as the Far East. He is believed to have painted roughly 7000 works. Some of them can be seen in Santa Cruz de Tenerife: at the Mencey Hotel, the Captaincy General's Office, the Casino in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Nuestra Señora de Candelaria basilica. This latter location is somewhat unheard-of as it is unusual for a church to house paintings with no religious content. The basilica contains two murals – one on either side of the entrance – representing the land just as the aborigines saw it when the Virgin appeared before them.