Pablo Luís Torrents

Montevideo, 1893 – Montevideo, 1966

grupo autores

The everlasting migrant. From Uruguay to Barcelona; forced to exile in France in 1939 and later on in Uruguay; on the way to Argentine and returned to Uruguay. And an unfulfilled dream: returning to the Catalan capital that he missed so much and where he lived out his outstanding photo-journalistic career. He established himself with the Universal Exposition of 1929, and portrayed sporting activities as well as the cultural and political life, especially for various publications of Madrid. In full swing during the war when he was assigned a job that would mark him forever: document the bombings graphically.

His first photos in the local press were of sports character, published in La Jornada Deportiva in 1923. Little by little he gained contacts which allowed the cooperation with some newspapers in Madrid, such as the popular El Heraldo de Madrid. His professional leap came in 1929 due to two reasons: the work produced in Barcelona by the Universal Exposition and the foundation of the partnership Gaspar-Sagarra-Torrents, located in Via Laietana 54.

The team known as The Three Wise Men, worked like a clockwork during four years, this way becoming the photo-journalistic enterprise of reference to the city. Torrents took responsibility of all the Madrid based publications, this way working as the correspondent in Barcelona for the firm Prensa Gráfica S.A., publisher of, among others, Mundo Gráfico, La Esfera and Crónica. He was partner with Sagarra during 1932 and 1934. Later he continued on his own and at that time his son Pablo René started to work as his assistant.

Everything changed by the 19th of July 1936. Committed to the Republican cause he took part in the consortium of photographers that consisted of the most important active photojournalists. The aim of this group was to cooperate and join efforts in the coverage of the numerous news that the conflict generated. From 1937 onwards, Torrents was assigned a job that would mark his life forever: document the effects of the fascist air raids, first in Barcelona and later on in different locations of the Peninsular geography.

At the beginning of 39, despite of the evidences, he refused to accept the defeat. With the armed fascist troops at the gates of Barcelona, he escaped into exile in a car, with him he brought two wooden boxes with all that he had been able to gather, in a hurry and on the run, from his personal archive. Those photos were lost near Le Boulou and their destiny is still a mystery.

Taking advantage of his wife's French nationality, the family managed to get to Perpignan and later on to Paris. Their flat in the French capital worked as a support centre that helped localise and bring together the exiled Spanish journalists. Acting as the representative of the Federation International de Journalistes (FIJ), Torrents was able to ease up processes and try to help out the journalists detained in the French concentration camps.

But the influence of yet another war was getting unbearable. And one winter night in 1940 the family boarded on the Florida, headed for Montevideo. In Uruguay he left photojournalism, put together another studio and continued with industrial and commercial photography. He always missed Barcelona, and amongst other activities linked to the Catalans in America, he was a member of the steering committee of the Casal Català de Montevideo. There, during the decade of the 1950es, he ran into his old partner Josep Gaspar, with who he tried without success to put in practise a film production company.

In 1955 Torrents migrated once again, this time to Buenos Aires, where he opened up an interesting store of musical postcards that ran for years. But still the nostalgia persisted and a decade later he returned to Montevideo with the aim of organising his last trip: his return to Catalonia. He didn't have the time. He died the 25th of September 1966, at an age of 73 years, without realising his dream.

Resources: 

Alós, Ernest: "Torrents també hi era". El Periódico de Catalunya. 1/12/2013 

Acknowledgements: 

Gabriela Torrents, Ricardo Franco.