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Claudio Bravo: Recent Work
Marlborough Chelsea    Oct 21 - Nov 27, 2010


The Directors of Marlborough Gallery are pleased to present an exhibition of recent work by the preeminent realist painter, Claudio Bravo, at Marlborough Chelsea, 545 West 25 Street, from October 21 through November 27, 2010. This will be Bravo’s first exhibition in Chelsea and marks his third decade of representation by Marlborough. With over fifty paintings ranging from intimate still lifes to monumental triptychs, this show will occupy both the first and second floors of the gallery. Marlborough will also feature the debut of Philippe Aubert’s film about Claudio Bravo’s life and work with an emphasis on his creative environment in Marrakech, Taroudant and Tangiers.

Bravo is recognized for using a realist style that recalls the delicacy, formality, and craftsmanship of old master technique. This exhibition features a number of works in what some may consider the supreme achievement of his career: studies of colored and folded paper. These include paintings of packages wrapped in paper or by works whose sole subject is colored paper. In many cases, the paper has been creased, crumpled, folded and twisted to create compositional structure. Morocco Triptych, 2009 (78 3/4 x 118 in./ 200 x 300 cm) and Yellow and Beige Triptych, 2008 (78 3/4 x 117 in./200 x 297 cm) are two examples of such work that will be in the show. Extraordinary to behold, these monumental package triptychs by Claudio Bravo are trompe l’oeil masterpieces that vibrate with color, intensity and mystery, simultaneously reinvigorating a format that arose over a thousand years ago in early Christian art and expanding the limits of another art historical trope – the still life genre – through an ingenious use of scale and subject.

Bravo’s package paintings continue with a remarkable series entitled Prisma (Prism), 2009, that includes fourteen canvases of one color each that cross the light spectrum from green to blue with twelve shades in between (all oil on canvas, 2009, 18 x 14 7/8 in./45.7 x 37.8 cm). Each painting depicts a wrapped package and is a sort of tone poem dedicated to one hue – be it bright yellow, fiery red or royal purple. Bravo’s approach to a single subject over a number of canvases has precedent in the series of diverse artists such as Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. In all the works one is mesmerized by Bravo’s command and understanding of the effects of light and tone.

Over his career of more than fifty years Bravo has proven that he can paint any subject he chooses, and his oeuvre has been marked by consummate treatments of the human figure, still lifes, interiors, religious and mythological subjects, drapery as a subject in itself, and to a lesser extent landscapes and cityscapes. This show will include a number of small paintings of towns in the arid countryside of Morocco, including Sidi Ouaggag, Ait Iaaza and Casbah de Tiout. Still life subjects include three large paintings humorously dedicated to the quotidian and banal objects that one finds in a grocery store, all arranged by color: Marjana azul, Marjana rojo and Marjana amarillo (all oil on canvas, 2008, 51 x 63 3/4 in./129.5 x 162 cm). Equally engaging and uncanny are Bravo’s paintings of the backs of stretched canvases, be it one large work, such as Bastidor (2008, 63 1/2 x 51 in./161.2 x 129.5 cm) or a pile of them leaning against a wall, as in Bastidores (2008, 44 ½ x 57 in./113 x 144.8).

The second of seven children, Bravo was born in 1936 in Valparaiso, Chile. He attended a Jesuit school in Santiago and briefly studied art in the studio of a local painter. Largely self-taught, at the age of 18 he had his first exhibition in Santiago and became a sought-after portrait painter. He left Chile in 1961 for Europe and eventually settled in Madrid where his portrait painting met with great success. In 1972 he moved to Tangier where he devoted himself to art. He had his first show in New York in 1970 at the Staempfli Gallery, and then joined Marlborough in 1981.

Bravo represented Chile in the 2007 Venice Biennale at the Museo Diocesano. Also in 2007 he had solo shows at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterey, Mexico and Espace Bellevue, Biarritz, France. In 2005, Bravo’s work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Château de Chenonceau and in 2004 he had an exhibition at the Musée du Monde Arabe, Paris. That show was devoted to subjects Bravo painted relating to the Arab world. Previously, he had been given two retrospectives: the first in 1987-88 at the Elvehjem Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin, which traveled to the Meadows Museum, Dallas, TX, and Duke University Museum of Art, Durham, NC; and the second in 1994 at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile. In 1997 an exhibition devoted to his package paintings was shown at the Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL.

His work may be found in the collections of museums around the world including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museo Nacional de Bellas Arte, Santiago, Chile; Museum Boymans-van Beunigen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; and the Rufino Tamayo Museum of International Contemporary Art, Mexico.

In 1996 Bravo received the prestigious Gold Medal of Honor from Casita Maria settlement house of New York, in 2000 he received the “Art Miami International Distinguished Artist award.” and in 2005 he was inducted into the Pastel Society of America’s Hall of Fame.

An illustrated color catalogue will be available at the time of the exhibition.

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