Recognized as an accomplished draftsman, the Chilean artist Claudio Bravo worked both on paper and canvas throughout his career, but surely his most unique work, and representative of his sensitivity, can be found in his pastels and in those drawings, the first of bright colors and seconds of great depth and beauty.
Several of them, and also a selection of his paintings, are exhibited for the first time in the United States, at the Forum Gallery from New York, which now represents the legacy of this author who died a decade ago. Both works stand out for their technical virtuosity, which allowed Bravo to seduce the viewer along unexpected paths and apparently not born of effort. David Ebony explains, in the sample catalog, that like a modern alchemist, he succeeds in transforming everyday objects and ordinary subjects into something inimitable, rare and extraordinary. Even his most austere and almost abstract compositions can inspire awe in their transcendental appeal.
His work is based on color and light and it was precisely that of Morocco, where he lived from 1972 until his death, that attracted him to the point of wanting to capture it on canvas or paper. The closeness was very often his starting point: in his still lifes he used to interpret everyday objects or from his own collections, which he arranged in an orderly manner in the compositions, emphasizing their enigmatic side. Through austere resources and great attention to nuances, he focused on evoking emotions rather than on generating more or less truthful representations or focused on formal issues; we see it in Forum Gallery in Moroccan fans (1994), Ritual stones (1997), Camel and lamb skins (2004) and Yellow Marjana (2008), images impregnated with harmonious tones and Bravo’s characteristic luminosity.
Inspired by the paintings of Mark Rothko and Antoni Tàpies, the Chilean began to work with subtle colors and palpable textures, on canvas and paper, at the beginning of the sixties, and these features centered his best-known pieces, during the author’s life and later. . Also part of this New York show Three Aluminium Papers (2010) and Red Cloth (2011), which was his last finished painting: a majestic, large-format work, now on display to the public for the first time.
The earliest painting in the exhibition, however, is the haunting Nude Male Leaning on Column (1979), created under the influence of Bravo from his stay in New York between 1969 and 1972 and also from Velazquez, silent and ethereal. Cakes are also not lacking in the Forum Green Sofa (1991) and Opening the Door (1991) and the drawings Two Heads and Hands (1983) and Said (1995), as well as the disturbing still life Engines (2008).
Bravo, who represented his country at the Venice Biennale in 2007, was self-taught and his creative vocation was born after contemplating ancient sculptures in childhood, which he always admired, although it was clear very early that he wanted to be a painter. His good work in a figuration that brought him closer to super-realism also drew from classical painting (we were talking about Velázquez, but also about Sánchez Cotán or Zurbarán) and echoes of Dalí.
He exhibited for the first time in Valparaíso, when he was only seventeen years old, and later became famous as a portraitist, also in Madrid, where he settled in the sixties and was highly praised for the credibility of his works and his ability to represent forms and complex objects, always with his models in front of him and never from photographs, because he was convinced that the eye saw more than the camera.
International recognition came to him as early as the seventies, after exhibiting his production at the New York Staempfli Gallery, and at that time he began to paint wrapped and tied packages of an unusual verism. Later, as we said, he would establish himself in Morocco (he used to collect, but then his patrimonial acquisitions were accentuated); His last exhibition in life would take place in New York’s Marlborough, in 2010, when he planned to create a museum in his country with his own collections of Roman sculptures, works of Warhol, Manolo Valdés or Bacon, pieces of Botero O Rodin and contemporary furniture.
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