Meet Salvador Loreto
Artist. Visionary. Revolutionary.
A full blooded gypsy born in Algeciras, Spain in 1942. Came to Australia in 1966. Visual artist. Work not limited to one style. Famous for his two portraits of the late Don Dunstan.
Salvador Flores Loreto was born in Algeciras, Spain on 28 June 1942, to a gitano (gypsy) family whose tradition is flamenco and bullfighting.
Under the name "el Gitanillo de Algeciras", Loreto experienced the art of bullfighting, but gave away this career after being badly gored by a bull at the age of 15 years.
He had started painting and drawing at a very early age, but after his career as a bullfighter came to an end, he turned to singing (under the names "Montoyita" and "el Titi de Algeciras" <www.trianaflamenco.com>) and painting, but it was painting that became his greatest love and passion.
After studies in various art schools in Algeciras, Madrid and Bilbao, Loreto was commissioned to undertake several major public works and later began to exhibit as a solo artist. On his arrival in Australia in 1966, he discovered a new landscape and people and a freedom of expression, which he gladly embraced. This stimulated his approach to painting for the years that followed. However the Spanish and in particular gypsy, cultural roots remained a reference point for his painting.
Throughout his work the pathos, tragedy and direct physical expressive force appear as elements in his painting. The contrasts of light and shade, the reference to surrealist images and the flamenco 'jondo' (depth) are all apparent in his work.
In Adelaide, Australia, one of the highlights of his career was to twice have the privilege of painting the portrait of the late Don Dunstan, former Premier of South Australia. Don Dunstan was a popular politician, who during his premiership socially transformed the State. Among his many reforms he encouraged and oversaw a flourishing of the arts. Dunstan considered Loreto a pure and great artist whose work was relevant to everyday life and happily agreed to sit for him. These paintings now have great historical significance in South Australia, as they are the only known portraits in existence that the late Don sat for. The first portrait 'Don Dunstan' was entered in the Archibald Competition in 1993 and the second one 'DON' was completed shortly before the death of Don in 1999 and was donated to the Adelaide Festival Centre in 2023 in honour of the 50th Anniversary of the Centre. It now sits proudly in the Dunstan Playhouse.
During his long and varied career Loreto has exhibited in Europe and Japan and in Australia - in Perth, Sydney and Adelaide.
Disdaining to be categorised and conform to fads, Loreto sees himself as an honest artist who is inspired by the human spirit. His works demonstrate his extraordinary talent for expressing himself in different styles, always with that touch of surrealism which good Spanish artists are unable to resist.
1960 - 1961
Academia de Arte, Madrid, SPAIN
Academia de Arte, Bilbao, SPAIN
Escuela de Artes y Oficios, Algeciras, Cadiz, SPAIN
Other artists have said...
..described Loreto as a mix of Goya and Salvador Dali - claiming he has discovered a new form of surrealism.
David Boyd - Artist
...admired the three dimensional aspect of Loreto's paintings, likening them to sculptures.
Tom Bass - Sculptor
..... admired his refusal to change, to pander to the public's tastes.
Charles Blackman and Clifton Pugh - Artists
Series of Murals and Book Illustration for Club El Mero, Algeciras, Spain.
Chalmers Street, 'Tradition', Mural commissioned by the Sydney City Council, NSW.
Set design for 'Laberinto' flamenco dance/drama interpretation of the life and works of Federico Garcia Lorca, Sydney, NSW.