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  • Provenance

    Sotheby's, New York, Latin American Art, November 21, 2006, lot 165
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Bravo’s art, in many instances, seems to straddle two worlds, that in which we exist and another, just lightly beyond our comprehension.
    Edward J. Sullivan, 1998

    A modern master of realist painting, included among the most esteemed Latin American artist of the 20th Century, Claudio Bravo’s work is characterized by a masterful rendering of light and form, imbuing his canvases with a unique and otherworldly atmospheric quality. Steeped in the rich tradition of his Italian and Spanish Baroque predecessors and strongly influenced by Surrealism, Bravo’s work intently references the past while complimenting and looking forward to the theory and practice of his contemporaries, particularly that of color theorist Mark Rothko. As one of Bravo’s earliest known canvases and a marked departure from the portraiture that initiated his ascendancy within the Spanish artistic elite, Vista de Ávila unites the practice and theory of these seemingly disparate art historical genres, deftly demonstrating the artist’s technical and vibrant virtuosity.

    Bravo’s concern with the realistic yet painterly depiction of his subjects can be clearly traced to the work of the great Spanish Masters: Velázquez, Zurbáran, and, in some instances, El Greco. The arresting, wistful and dramatic Vista de Ávila explicitly recalls El Greco’s View of Toledo, an impressive and emotional depiction of the master’s adopted hometown. Executed in 1961 when Bravo was himself new to Spain, Vista de Ávila visually echoes the apparent sentiment manifested in the View of Toledo; just as the Spanish heartland became El Greco’s new homeland, so, too, did it become Bravo’s in the 1960’s. An intensely powerful image, Bravo’s climactic Vista de Ávila feasts upon the interplay of light and shadow, intimating a mysterious yet warm atmosphere, the imagined, undulating landscape receding into the distance, suggesting a dark and unknown world.

    In 2001, Bravo told Americas magazine, “The photorealists, like machines, copied directly from photographs….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.” His innate ability to see beyond the real – a genre denoted by scholars as “hyperrealism”—is yet another example of Bravo’s ability to bridge, stylistically and theoretically, the disparate yet interwoven schools of the Baroque, surreal and contemporary. Alluding to his surrealist predecessors and anticipating the color-field theory of the mid-century, the artist’s application of a subdued and sensitive palette only heightens the atmospheric quality of Vista de Ávila. Strongly influenced by the work of Salvador Dalí, Bravo envelops Ávila in a shroud of nuanced shadows, framing the medieval walled city in a magical, almost divine, cloud of light. Undoubtedly inspired by the surrealist master’s many views of the Cadaqués region of Spain, Bravo’s painterly, neutrally-toned landscape transcends the realist cityscape, interpreting the rolling hills of the Spanish countryside as luminous waves. As though presenting the story of a lost yet timeless world, Bravo’s application of the surreal further extends to his presentation of the haunting trail of birds emerging from the town’s chapel, symbols of another mystical dimension extending into present. Carefully nuanced in execution and vision, Vista de Ávila unites past and present in an exquisite homage to artistic representation of the sublime, as interpreted by masters old and new.

CHILE

11

Vista de Ávila

1961
oil on canvas
31 7/8 x 51 in. (81 x 129.5 cm.)
Signed and dated "Claudio Bravo MCMLXI" lower right. Further titled "Ávila" upper edge.

Estimate
$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $100,000

Contact Specialist
Laura González
Head of Latin America Sale
[email protected]
+ 1 212 940 1216

Latin America

New York 21 November 2013 4pm