As painter, draftsman, educator, and art critic, Bonilla Norat was part of the artistic generation of the 1950s. His artistic work included a great variety of formats and styles -among them realism, expressionism, surrealism, and kinetic movement, for which he was particularly known.
The artist was born in Cayey in 1912. His first artistic studies were directed by Ramón Frade, painter from Cayey of the costumbrista style. During the 1930s, he studied at Child-Walker School of Fine Arts in Boston, the Ernst Thurn Summer School in Massachusetts, Academia San Fernando in Madrid, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. He traveled through Europe before settling in New York in 1939, where he set up a work shop. After serving in the United States Army (1941-1945), he went back to New York for a brief period, where he set up another work shop. At the end of the 1940s, he returned to Puerto Rico.
For the first time, Bonilla Norat was part of a collective exhibit of Puerto Rican artists in 1947. His work is eclectic and covers various artistic periods and styles. He created parallel works of surrealist, impressionist, and realist nature. He stood out for his use of kinetic art, a method in contemporary art based on the abstract in which the impression or illusion of movement is created. Among his works are: Sueño de alerta (1940), Despierta primavera and Ritual (both in 1975). His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums on the island as well as in Spain, United States, France, Italy and Mexico.
This painter was also one of the artists that collaborated with DIVEDCO, División de Educación de la Comunidad (Division of Community Education), where he worked as serigraphy professor. In addition, he worked as professor at the Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico between 1956 and 1975, teaching a course in the theory of color.
Interested in the development of art in the country, Bonilla Norat was part of various workshops, studios, and artistic organizations such as Comité Pro Escuela de Artes Plásticas (Committee for Fine Arts Schools) and Borinquen 12, a cooperative for artists, which he directed. He worked as an art critic for The San Juan Star newspaper from 1976 until 1987.
Félix Bonilla Norat died in July 1992 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“Datos biográficos de algunos pintores puertorriqueños modernos”. Boletín de la Academia de Artes y Ciencias de Puerto Rico. tomo V # 2 abril a junio 1969
Delgado, Osiris. Cuatro siglos de pintura puertorriqueña. Banco Santander de Puerto Rico, 1998
Gran Enciclopedia de Puerto Rico
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 03, 2014.
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