Helios Gómez - Great Roma artist

Helios Gómez is a Spanish graphic artist of Roma origin, born in 1905 in Seville. He was educated at the art and craft school as a painter and decorator of ceramics. His first works have been published in the anarchist journal Páginas Libres, and he has illustrated books by various Spanish authors.

In 1925 he held his first exhibition in Seville, and a year later another in Madrid and Barcelona. Being convinced of the urgency of political change, he joined anarchist groups and chose artistic expression in accordance with his own political principles.

In Gómez's prints, the strong influence of expressionism is felt, especially of politically oriented expressionist prints. The legacy of Cubism and post-impressionist geometrization is also present. Works such as Evacuation have a reference to stylistic elements from the Spanish art tradition, such as the works of Francisco Goya and colorism in the style of El Greco.

Gómez played a major role in the Spanish Civil War, an armed conflict that ran from 1936 to 1939 between various leftist groups defending a democratically elected government and right-wing, nationalist and fascist insurgents led by Francisco Franco.

The left-wing side was fought mostly by the dissatisfied working class, radicalized by the economic crisis, and on the nationalist landowners by the military. Gomez was appointed political union commissioner during the war and sailed on the Bayo expedition to liberate Ibiza and Mallorca and joined the fronts in Aragon, Madrid and Andalusia.

He was also in charge of culture and designed books, newspapers and organized exhibitions. Gómez believed that the Spanish Civil War was part of the fight against a wider problem that threatened the fate of the Roma everywhere.

He was also the initiator of the Roma movement and in one of his interviews emphasized: "... from this war, which will produce many good things, the liberation of the Roma must come." After the war he had to flee to Paris, and on his return from France, 1945 He was arrested and died in Barcelona in 1956, two years after leaving prison.

In 1950, at the request of the prison chaplain in which Gómez served his sentence, the artist agreed to paint murals dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of prisoners, on the cell walls. Since the figures on the frescoes have Roma features, the work is known as Capilla Gitana (Roma Chapel).

The artist's son last photographed the frescoes in 1985, and in 1998 they are painted over. This act was a direct violation of intellectual property law. However, requests for renewal of the work were never accepted.

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