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Sunday, 22 Sep 2019

CLAUDIO BRAVO, Chile

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Claudio Bravo has always worked away from vanguards, as if time in his workshop does not elapse and neither new trends or new generations will affect him.  As a result, in his native country, Chile, he is considered to be a category of his own in contemporary painting.

His oilpaintings have reached over one million dollars in New York auctions, while he spends one half of his life in southern Chile, and the other half in Tangier, donates classic sculptures to the Museum El Prado and travels to the United States to open exhibitions. That is the life of Claudio Bravo, one of Chile’s most internationally renowned Chilean artists, who the same as the Spaniard Antonio López is considered to be at the peak of universal hyperrealism.

 

Bravo in Chile is a category by himself as regards national contemporary painting, because he has always worked away from vanguards, as if time in his workshop does not elapse and neither new trends or new generations could affect him. He persists in demonstrating his striking proficiency with brush and color, painting themes that vary from a mere visual representation of objects to motifs of more symbolic contents – all this with such an impressive skillfulness that no trace of manuality could ever be observed.98rf6

 

 

As a result of this attribute of Claudio Bravo’s artwork, his production  has an extraordinary commercial success and his exhibitions are visited by a great number of people. No other display in Chile has issued more tickets than that opened by Bravo a couple of years ago at the National Museum of Fine Arts. It has been said that his artwork is appeciated by the masses, it impresses and attracts those who know little or nothing about painting. His paintings do not question, they do not unsettle, they rather communicate and confer peace and calm – two ever- scarcer elements in our modern world.

 

 

Claudio was born on 8 November 1936 in Valparaíso.  Since his early youth  he became interested in and admired the great universal painters, such as Rafael Sanzio, Rembrandt, Tiziano, Francisco de Zurbarán and, of course, Diego Velázquez. The same as most Chilean realist painters he studied under Miguel Venegas Cifuentes (1907-1979), an artist-architect whose works featured a rigorous reflex of reality and tidiness. After concluding his studies, Bravo began to be acknowledged by the high social spheres of Santiago and Concepción thanks to his well-executed portraits. He opened his first exhibition in 1954 and during the next years pursued ballet and acting. After working professionally at the Chilean Ballet Company and the Teatro de Ensayo of the Catholic University, he left for Euope, where he established himself and turned into a society portraitist, and then displayed his production at the art exhibition Documenta 5 in the German city of Kassel (1972). That year he acquired a house and settled in Tangiers, perhaps to escaoe from the social pressure of Madrid.  In Morrocco he drastically refocused his painting motifs on the exotism of that African country: He started painting slippers, turban-wearing men, veiled women, Arab faces and music instruments.

 

 

98rf3A few years later, Bravo gained access to the North American art circles: in the early eighties he displayed his paintings at the prestigious Marlborough Gallery of New York, which still represents him and promotes his artwork. In the seventies he showed for the first time his famous “packets” that often turn into commercial surprises at Latin American artwork auctions.

 

However, Claudio Bravo also may have other surprises in store, like his itinerant exhibition at which he displayed themes he never before had touched:  The protagonists of his oil paintings were not his overexposed classical sculptures, art books, plants, or nacre boxes, but plain cloth painted with loud colors, folds, creases, and even lint.  Most expert art critics commended these paintings that reminded many viewers of the linnen manufactured in southern Chile, while others saw in them traces of almost conventual religiosity. Still others associated this topic with Bravo’s education in Santiago at a prestigious school of the Society of Jesus.

‘Without any loss of visual identity, these unassuming fabrics every so often attain an abstract monumentality.  At the same time, they might be the latest and most avant-garde incarnation of that long lineage of clothing and drapery that  traverses the history of painting, but now is free, emancipated from any context whatsoever’, said a commentator about the display at the A.M.S. Marlborough gallery of   Santiago.

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