Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bravo, Claudio

oil on canvas
240 x 200 cm
location unknown
-Fair use-

Claudio Nelson Bravo Camus (1936-2011) was born in the town of Valparaiso, Chile, and grew up on his family’s farm in Melipilla, where his father was a rancher and businessman. While attending a Jesuit school in Valparaiso, he took art lessons, but he was largely self-taught. Since 1972, he lived and worked in Tangier, Morocco. His ability to depict complex objects and shapes is reminiscent of Velazquez.

In 1945 he joined the Colegio San Ignacio in Santiago, Chile and studied art in the studio of Miguel Venegas Cienfuentes in Santiago, then, in 1954, he had his first exhibition at "Salon 13" in Santiago at the age of 17. He also danced professionally with the Compania de Ballet de Chile and acted at the Teatro Ensayo at the Catholic University of Chile, but after moving to Concepcion he became a sought-after portrait painter.
In the 1960s, he established himself in Madrid as a society portraitist, gaining recognition for his astounding ability to create verisimilitude.
In 1968, he received an invitation from President Marcos of the Philippines to come and paint him and his wife, Imelda Marcos as well as members of the high society. It was during this period that he began painting packages in a heightened realist style. “The photorealists, like machines, copied directly from photographs,” he told Americas magazine in 2001. “Always I have relied on the actual subject matter because the eye sees so much more than the camera: half tones, shadows, minute changes in the color or light. I think I was working more in the tradition of the Color Field artists, like Mark Rothko, whom I still greatly admire. There was also a touch of the Spanish artist Antoni Tapies, because he, too, did paintings involving string across a canvas surface.”
After working in Madrid in the 1960s and establishing a reputation as a society portrait painter, in 1970, he had his first exhibition at the Staempfli Gallery in New York which received a rave headline review in the New York Times.

In 1972, he moved to Tangier, Morocco where he purchased a 19th century mansion. After moving to Tangier, he expanded his repertory to include landscapes, animal portraits, still lifes and human subjects, often in exotic Moroccan costume. He later executed a series of paintings that deployed lush, color-saturated fabrics that looked as if they had been snatched from old master paintings.

He painted many prominent figures in society including dictator Franco of Spain, President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Imelda Marcos of the Philippines. In 1978 he painted a portrait of Malcolm Forbes, dressed in a motorcycle racer’s jumpsuit and surrounded by motorcycle helmets. He died at his home in Taroudant, Morocco at the age of 74. He owned four villas in Morocco and an apartment in Manhattan.