Armando Morales, Nicaraguan (1927 - 2011)

Armando Morales

Armando Morales was born in Granada, Nicaragua on January 15, 1927, the youngest of six children of a family deeply rooted in religion. Two years later, the family moved to Managua, the Capital, where there were greater opportunities for his father to expand his hardware business.

Since Early childhood Armando showed a great interest in art, together with a fascination with the tools of a painter. He Recalls that at the age of six or seven, he searched in vain for a box of oil paints which his sister had used with a spatula to decorate handkerchiefs and coasters. He remembers well that the brand was Pelikan, but his persistent searching only aroused his mothers annoyance and the box was never found.

Morales’ skill for drawing did not go unnoticed by his teachers. One of them in particular, who taught arithmetic, grammar and painting, frequently praised his paintings while turning a blind eye to his laziness in other subjects. By this time, painting ceased to be only a school activity: He also Painted at home on his return from school. Around 1938, he painted realistically some imaginary landscapes with Morales regards as the true beginning of his artistic career.

The School of Fine Arts of Managua had a rigorous academic curriculum. The first year was dedicated to drawing with charcoal, and later with crayon, inanimate models of wood and plaster, as well as all kinds of cloth. Perspective, history of art and anatomy was taught during the second year and, while still working with crayon and charcoal, live models were introduced. It was not until the third year that Morales would fulfill his childhood dreams of painting in oils.

After his father died in 1944, a year before he finished his baccalaureate, Morales started working in the family business to with his elder brother Carlos to support the family. He managed to paint on Saturdays and Sundays and sometimes only at night, and while he occasionally used his lunch time for drawing, his limited free time was often further reduced by the social life of an eighteen year old.

In 1956, he participated in the Central American Painting Contest “15 de Septiembre” held in Guatemala and won first prize with his painting Spook-Tree. This painting was later bought buy the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1957, the exhibition “Six Nicaraguan Artists” was inaugurated in Washington. Morales Received excellent reviews and sold all the paintings with which he had participated.

On October 15, 1964, Morales Married rosemary Tessier, who had recently returned to New York as secretary to actors Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. Shortly afterwards he received another international award: the “J.L. Hudson & Co.” prize at the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. At the end of the year, the newly married couple traveled to Spain and settled in Cadiz.

In 1966 he won the “Industrial Tandil” Prize at the III American Biennial in Cordoba Argentina. In October of that year, Morales Returned to New York to Live in A studio apartment on the west side. His son Juan Sebastian was born on December 9.

In 1970 he painted lush and sensual fruits, heavy and voluptuous apple and pears that evoked the softness of human skin, from which there was the obvious transition to the painting of nudes. In his 1971 Exhibition at the Galeria Bonino in New York, he showed a series of stunning nudes; the fine detail of every muscle, every inch of skin revealing an unsurpassed sensuality.

Morales returned to Central America in 1976, intending to live in his own country, but political turbulence obliged him to move to Costa Rica. In 1977, he returned to the work of lithographs, having made several editions in New York and Berlin. He produced a series in black & white for Herbert Kassner of Lithographic Editions at the Kryon Editions Workshop Mexico City.

In 1982, Morales Traveled to Nicaragua where the Sandinista government awarded him the order of Ruben Dario. He took advantage of the trip to visit the tropical jungle of the Atlantic coast and part of Bluefields. That same year, he moved to Paris and made a brief trip to Morocco, visiting Marrakech and Agadir. The Nicaraguan government named him an Alternative Delegate to UNESCO.

In 1993, he completed a portfolio of lithographs entitled The Saga of Sandino at the workshop of Artegrafias Limitadas, S.A. in Mexico City. Sandino was a Nicaraguan national hero whom Morales remembered seeing in Managua during his childhood. While in Mexico City, he also finished a portrait of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A year later, the lithographs were exhibited at the Rufino Tamayo Museum in Mexico City and at the Institute of Graphic Arts in Oaxaca, where Morales also Held a conference on the occasion of the exhibition. He then went to Guadalajara for the inauguration of the Julio Cartazar Chair at the University of Jalisco. He was also Appointed juror for the Exposicion Pinturerias organized by the Cultural Foundation Artencion, Mexico City.

Morales' work was exhibited at seven major shows from 1984 to 2000 at the Galerie Claude Bernard, a prominent gallery in Paris. The Gallery has published several catalogs of his work, and its website summarizes Morales' artistic career. He died in Miami, Florida, USA.

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