Fifth Floor is pleased to present, Into the Heart of the Sun, Leonardo Bravo’s latest works on paper using gouache and other wet media. The works draw on a modernist and minimalist geometric vocabulary by employing an array of saturated colored lines to visualize structures and systems in a constant state of unfolding. These are influenced by a variety of sources including the Bauhaus master weaver Gunta Stolzl, the wall drawings of Sol Lewitt, the works of Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica, and traditional Indian miniatures. Outside of a purely pictorial representation, Bravo is concerned with the arc in which social movements are formed, operate, and collapse. Particular to this are movements that exist within the margins of society through cultural expressions that are in resistance to singular power structures. These are resonant to the artist through specific cultural or historical cornerstone moments that pushed or erased normative boundaries, many of these related to liberation movements in Africa and Latin America, and student uprisings in the late twentieth century. Also, while not just appearing visually melodic it is more deeply representative of ways in which music has defined subcultural groups that have stood in direct resistance to the established rules. Bravo creates his own personal mythology of moments such as Larry Levan, the legendary DJ of NYC’s Paradise Garage, holding a crowd in absolute heightened states of rapture and exuberance; the way in which Lee Scratch Perry created an almost alchemical transformation and expansion of sound space through his dub experiments at his Black Ark studio in Kingston, Jamaica; and the utopian idealism of many liberal, progressive, and forward thinking movements throughout the entire history of the twentieth century. Although these works on paper are not by themselves illustrations of this rich source of inspiration, they are meant to suggest, evoke, and reposition some of these idealized moments in time.
As an artist and curator, Bravo has exhibited at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Whittier College Arts Gallery, Deep River Gallery, Barbara Davis Gallery (Houston, TX), POST LA, and Michael’s Restaurant (Santa Monica, CA). Over the last two years Bravo organized and produced Big City Forum, an interdisciplinary project designed to bring together creative practitioners over issues related to the social dimensions of art and public space. Currently Big City Forum functions as a monthly conversation series in which leading architects, designers, artists, curators, and writers share projects with a collective network of peers taking place at various sites across L.A., including the Santa Monica Museum of Art, The Neutra House, The Goethe Institut, the Honor Fraser Gallery, LAX ART, and Art Center College of Design. Bravo received his MFA from the University of Southern California and his BFA from Otis College of Art & Design.