An approach to someone as important as Tarrasso is a great challenge —it is impossible to define him. Given his characteristic spontaneity, he was the one who best defined his work in a press interview: «There is no painting without colour».

Casimir Martinez Tarrasso was born in 1900 in Sarria (Barcelona), in a humble family environment. He lost his father when he was only one year old, and his mother, the one who he took his renowned surname from as an artist, managed to raise Casimir and his two siblings with hard work and great hardship. This experience would mark Casimir forever. He would never forget that impoverished childhood.

Although there are sometimes discussions about whether a genius is born or made, Tarrasso’s destiny was already predicted when he was born. When he was seven he enroled at the Escola de la Llotja in Barcelona, and his teachers were Felix Mestres and Ramiro Rocamora, but his rebellious and undisciplined nature did not get on well with that kind of academic teaching. Later he studied painting at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Barcelona, where Nicolas Raurich (1874-1945) was his mentor and helped him to improve his painting and drawing technique. Soon Tarrasso started as an apprentice at his studio, thanks to his sister’s friendship with the Raurich family, and became the most outstanding pupil. While he devoted himself wholeheartedly to the noble art of painting, Tarrasso worked for a trading company as a means of subsistence, as a deliveryman and door-to-door salesman.
The turning point that would determine his later evolution as an artist came when he met Ramona Planas, someone whose artistic sensibility and training were exquisite, and who would eventually become his wife. She had her own art studio, which she shared with Tarrasso to give classes, and encouraged him to hold his first solo exhibition at the Galerías Layetanas in Barcelona in 1928. After the Spanish Civil War, an experience he survived as best he could, some decisive events took place in his artistic and personal trajectory. 

On the one hand, he exhibited at the Galerias Augusta in Barcelona, displaying works filled with an energetic and lively chromaticism that would astound the general public and drastically divide the critics opinions; on the other hand, he visited Majorca for the first time, the island which, together with the Costa Brava, would become his main source of inspiration. It was here where he established his second home until his death.

As with most geniuses, Tarrasso was ahead of his time and, as a result, greatly misunderstood. Those who were lucky enough to know him and enjoy his friendship described him as an eccentric character, with a strong temperament, direct and outspoken, but also very modest and sensitive.

His residence in Palma and his studio in Santanyi only provided the most elementary comforts; he lacked greed and had a certain disdain for material things: he was a perfect yet unaware anarchist. For Tarrasso, painting was his life, and he neither did nor cared about anything that was not connected to it. He regularly attended meetings with artists, had a reputation as a great orator and made friends with painters of his generation. However, he never wanted an art dealer —he saw them as leeches— and always held strong animosity towards gallery owners, whom he dismissed as «pirates and hustlers». His strong beliefs brought him powerful enmities and closed off some coveted doors, more than once.

Tarrasso’s art is lively and sensorial, the strokes of his brush show through his pigments the joy of life. His work is full of vibrant sensations captured from his surroundings, reflected on the canvas. His painting is virile, with great impasto, splendorous from the very first stroke. The chromatic amalgam is always daring and groundbreaking, distant from objective reality. Tarrasso creates a parallel world of colour, applying thick, vigorous and extremely bright strokes with his palette knife. As his career progresses, chromaticism acquires greater transcendence, his landscapes succumb towards deconstruction, close to abstract art. The skies are sometimes red or yellow, the mountains are fuchsia, blue or turquoise; the virulence of his strokes is always exacerbating, yet everything fits perfectly into this beautiful universe created by Casimir Martinez Tarrasso.

As far as influences are concerned, Tarrasso imbibed from the spring of postmodernism, fauvism and expressionism, but his exultant vision of landscapes, his peculiar technique for tackling challenges and his individualistic style set him apart from these artistic movements. Joaquim Mir and Hermen Anglada Camarasa were undoubtedly the modernist painters who most inspired him, as well as the Fauvist painter Paul Gauguin. Despite the above, Tarrasso’s work cannot be pigeonholed, although some critics see Tarrasso as a successor of Joaquim Mir.

Certainly, Tarrasso has been a great artist, and great artists become producers of their own trend. His most important disciples are Octavi Pou, Fidel Bofill, Josep Farras and, especially, Rosa Palou Rubi, from Campanet ( Majorca).

Tarrasso was an artist in constant progression and, consequently, his artistic stages are not easy to define, although we can mention three clearly distinctive periods: a first period of youth, which lasted until the end of the Spanish Civil War (1939), with an academicist aesthetic and a certain influence from Raurich. A second period, from 1940 to the end of the 1960s, the most outstanding and significant period when he developed all his creative potential, expanding his chromatic palette incessantly. A third and final period, from 1970 until his death in 1980, when his work reached such a degree of deconstruction that shapes are absorbed by colours, almost reaching abstraction.

Since 1940 his exhibitions have been held regularly at the main national galleries with notable success, even though they have not always been understood by some critics. A considerable number of his clients were foreign collectors (English, French and German). He regularly exhibited at La Galeria Augusta, Las Galerías Layetanas, Palau de Congresos and Sala Gaspar (Barcelona), Círculo de Bellas Artes/Casal Balaguer, Galerías Costa, Club Pollença ( Majorca). He won many awards and medals at renowned national contests, and his work is displayed at the most distinguished museums of modern art: Museo Carmen Thyssen, MNAC, Museo del Prado, Musée d’Orsay, Grand Palais, Museu Castell d’Aro, Es Baluard, etc.

This genius from Sarria achieved success in the last stage of his life and it was only after his death that his work’s value kept growing.
Tarrasso was mainly a creative painter, a peculiar and unusual artist, a colour revolutionary, always faithful to his art and his aesthetic principles. As grandiloquent as his work, gifted with boundless creativity, and at the same time, a controversial being who did not hesitate to consciously break the established norms and, in turn, reject most of the artistic innovations of the time.
He did not care about giving up part of his success during his lifetime, nor about the insubstantial flattery of some indolent hacks of his time. Neither money nor recognition were able to break his integrity. He lived for art. Anything else meant very little to him. As a great painter, his name will always be written in capital letters in the history of art.

Damian Verger Garau
Legal Expert in Art and Antiques and Art Critic