TAROUDANT, MOROCCO.- He had the gift of perceiving reality and translate it onto the canvas, with its lights and shadows, to the extent that many called him "the master of light. Considered the most prestigious Chilean painter alive, Claudio Bravo moved to Southern Morocco 39 years ago, where he died Saturday night at age 74.
Early reports indicated that his death had been caused by an attack of epilepsy, an illness that had been recently detected. But his friend and gallerist, Ana Maria Stagno, who manages the exhibition of his work in Chile, said Bravo suffered two heart attacks that caused his death. "I talked to Bashir, his partner and right hand man in Morocco and he told me that Claudio had arrived from Paris where he had gone to see a cardiologist. These two heart attacks were tremendous, he was taken to hospital in Taroudant, but they could do nothing," said the Director of AMS Marlborough Gallery.
A wake for Bravo was held during the day yesterday at his farm in Taroudant, where he settled in 2008. Today he will be buried in a small museum in his home, where he kept a large collection of Moroccan pottery. "He loved Chile, he liked to come to his villa in the south. Always looking for the best light for painting. He was a workaholic who could paint eight hours straight, " Stagno said.
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, Bravos 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 Americas Hall of Fame.