Claudio Bravo, a Chilean-born artist whose technically dazzling trompe-l'oeil paintings blended hyperrealism and classical Spanish influences, died earlier this month at his home in Morocco. He was 74.
After working in Madrid in the 1960s and establishing a reputation as a society portrait painter, Bravo made an immediate impact with his first New York show, at the Staempfli Gallery in 1970.
His paintings, depicting crumpled paper, paper bags and paper-wrapped packages tied with string, put technical virtuosity at the service of an imagination shaped by old master painting, especially the work of 17th-century Spanish artists like Zurbarán, Cotán and Velázquez. Unlike American photorealists, who took the world as they found it, Bravo rooted his commonplace objects in a rich art-historical soil that lent depth and mystery to his work.
Ken Johnson, in a review in the New York Times of Bravo's fabric paintings in 2000, wrote that "you could think of this work not as realism but as a kind of soulfully enriched Colour Field painting."
Claudio Nelson Bravo Camus was born in November 1936, in Valparaíso, Chile, and grew up on his family's farm in Melipilla, where his father was a farmer and businessman. While attending a Jesuit school in Valparaíso, he took lessons with Miguel Venegas Cifuentes, an academic artist, but he was largely self-taught.
At 17, he had his first exhibition at the prestigious Salón 13 in Valparaíso. He also danced with the Compañia de Ballet de Chile and acted at the Teatro Ensayo at the Catholic University of Chile, but after moving to Concepción he became a sought-after portrait painter.
FULL OBITUARY: Claudio Bravo, Chilean Artist, Dies at 74 (New York Times)
Claudio Bravo at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Bert Christensen's Cyberspace Gallery
Claudio Bravo (Wikipedia)