TEA Tenerife Arts Centre welcomes ‘El Drago de Canarias’, one of Óscar Domínguez’s emblematic works

The famous painting 'El Drago de Canarias', dating back to 1933, will form part of the exhibition dedicated to the outstanding Tenerife-born artist which opens this month at TEA Tenerife Arts Centre.

TEA Tenerife Arts Centre affiliated to the Department of Culture of the Island Council and managed by the Councillor Enrique Arriaga, welcomes the painting “El Drago de Canarias” (1933), one of the emblematic works of Óscar Domínguez (Tenerife, 1906-Paris, 1957). This famous painting, which belongs to the ABANCA Collection (A Coruña), arrived 14 Abril escorted from the airport by the National Police and will be one of the key pieces in the exhibition Óscar Domínguez. La conquista del mundo por la imagen, which opens on 28 April at 19:00. This exhibition, dedicated to the surrealist from Tenerife, is curated by the curator of the TEA Collection, Isidro Hernández.

The president of the Island Council, Pedro Martín, pointed out that “El Drago de Canarias” is a work in which Domínguez proposes his vision of the insular. Together with Cueva de guanches, it makes up the great surrealist diptych on the Canary Islands. The arrival in Tenerife of these two paintings for Domínguez’s exhibition – organised by the Cabildo, through TEA – is a great event and can be seen until 29 October, thanks to the loan facilities offered by their owners”.

The first vice-president and island councillor for Culture, Enrique Arriaga, stresses that “the Cabildo is committed to making the work of this great Tenerife artist visible, and we have made this clear with our various attempts to acquire some of his most emblematic works”. Along these lines, he assures us that “the arrival of “El Drago de Canarias” is the first step towards setting up a permanent exhibition to showcase the talent of this painter from Tenerife”.


The dragon tree is one of the central motifs in Óscar Domínguez’s paintings from the 1930s. The everyday image of this tree remembered in the childhood imagination of the young painter, in whose family garden in the house of El Calvario, in Tacoronte, a large specimen grew, is intermingled with the mythical vision of the primitive tree alluded to in the descriptions and logbooks of travellers to the Islands – Louis Feuillé, Alexander Von Humboldt, Sabin Berthelot, Olivia Stone and Piazzi Smyth, among others – most of whom were the entrepreneurs of scientific expeditions who, beyond botanical interest, enhanced the description of the tree with idealised contributions, embellished its appearance and significance, and attributed medicinal virtues to it.

Perhaps because of Domínguez’s obsession with the dreamlike image of the thousand-year-old tree, the painter was given the pseudonym Dragonnier des Canaries, so that the plastic representation of the Canary Island dragon tree in his work takes on a biographical aspect, like a plant alter ego of the artist.

In “El Drago de Canarias” the figure of the thousand-year-old tree imagined by Óscar Domínguez takes centre stage in the composition as if it were a totemic image, resounding and exultant, defying the heights with its weight, mocking moderate weather with its longevity. The figure of this tree takes on a Jurassic dimension, summoned from a remote and ageless past, outside the precise moderate weather of clocks, as if we were witnessing one of the possible, symbolic representations of the origin. The dragon tree is, here, the tree of the world; the umbilical cord that unites past, present and future in the same timeless and sublime point.

In this painting one can appreciate how the branches, like a dragon with a hundred heads, branch out to form a wide crown of crystallised leaves on which lurks a lion, a figure that represents the artist’s instinctive power. At its feet, the roots are transformed into a strange opening mechanism in the form of a can opener, with undulating shapes and an open body in parchment that serves as the score for a piano. It is an ancestral family tree which, from a single trunk, branches out into independent arms and heads, in a splendid crown which reproduces itself, like a family, for decades, for centuries.

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