Paul del Rio

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File:Paul del Rio Rojo sobre Negro1998.jpg
"Rojo sobre Negro" (Red on Black), acrylic on canvas, 1989, by Paul del Rio
File:Paul del rio mujer con flores.jpg
Paul del Río - Woman With Flowers

Paul del Rio (born 1943, died April 5, 2015) was a Venezuelan sculptor and painter. Paul del Rio combines modernism, cubism and surrealism to create enigmatic paintings that are usually a social commentary on the harshness of modern urban life for ordinary people, and their longing for a different life. Originally from Spain, his parents were exiled to France after the fall of the republic and then immigrated to Havana, Cuba where he was born as Máximo Canales. His family moved once more to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela his second year.


It was not as an artist but as a revolutionary that Paul del Rio first came to public notice. In 1963 at the age of 19 as leader of a Venezuelan revolutionary group the Armed Forces of National Liberation (in Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, FALN), he seized the Venezuelan cargo ship Anzoátegui (13/02/1963) and six months later kidnapped Argentine football player star Alfredo Di Stefano at gunpoint from the Potomac Hotel in Caracas while his team, Real Madrid, were on a pre-season tour of South America (24/08/1963).

The kidnapping was codenamed "Julian Grimau", after the Spanish communist Julián Grimau García executed by firing squad in Spain that April during Francisco Franco's dictatorship.

Di Stefano was released unharmed two days later close to the Spanish embassy, without a ransom being paid. The FALN had intended to use the kidnapping to bring international attention on the repressive government of Romulo Betancourt. Di Stefano played in a match against São Paulo F.C. the day after and received a standing ovation in the Olympic Stadium.[1]

A Spanish movie entitled "Real, La Película" ("Real, The Movie") which recounted these events was released in August 25, 2005. In a bizarre publicity stunt at the premiere, Paul del Rio and Di Stefano were brought together for the first time in the 42 years since the abduction.


In 1966, Paul del Rio began to make political cartoons under the pseudonym "URBA", and gradually began to find alternate means of expressing his political views through art. In 1975, he recovered his Venezuelan nationality which had been stripped from his entire family by President Rómulo Betancourt (administration 1959-1964). The gallery Viva Mexico of Caracas was the first gallery to successfully exhibit his work.

From 1974 to 1993, Paul del Rio exhibited his work in several exhibitions in Spain, Mexico, Finland, Japan, Romania, Colombia, Germany, Canada and Austria. During this period, in 1979 he joined the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua.

In 2000, Paul del Rio designed his bronze sculpture "Mano Mineral" ("Mineral Hand") for the Orden Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso (Order of Juan Pablo Perez Alfonso), the Venezuelan award of state given to those who contribute to works related to mining, petroleum and energy. The Venezuelan Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso as minister of mines and hydrocarbons for president Romulo Betancourt was the founder of OPEC, an idea he conceived while exiled in the United States during his review of the Texas Railroad Commission. Mano Mineral can be seen outside the OPEC building in Vienna, donated by the Government of Venezuela to the City of Vienna in 2003. The sculpture symbolizes the oil that emerges from that country. 2.20 metres high, it is a casting of the emblem of the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government of OPEC Member Countries, which Venezuela hosted in Caracas on September 27–28, 2000. A copy was also unveiled in May 2003 as a monument in Caracas, named "Monumento a La Paz" ("Monument for Peace") near PDVSA main building offices .


  1. "Alfredo Di Stéfano, Soccer Great, Dies at 88". NY Times. 7 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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