"I am an artist because it is the conduit to release the ideas and visuals I carry daily. Since I was a little boy I have pursued my own exploration of creativity, rooted in the unconscious mind and nurtured with daily practice using a variety of mediums of artistic expression. I am very passionate about my new Flow Series. The overwhelming feeling of purpose and expression I felt started with the idea of using ribbons as lines of energy to show the complex intersections of beauty and pain, inner and outer, the ephemeral and the eternal now, we are capable of experiencing every day." ---- Gil Bruvel
Born in Sydney, Australia, in 1959, but raised in southern France, Gil Bruvel started experimenting with art at age 9. His father, a cabinet maker acquainted Gil with wood sculpting and furniture design and applied these skills to his functional art designs ans sculptures years later.
In 1974, Gil began studies at an art restoration workshop in Chateaurenard, France, he studied under M. Laurent de Montcassin, learning the techniques of Old and Modern Masters as well as art history of the 14th-20th century. Thereafter, he set up his studio in St. Remy de Provence until 1986 when he first made his way to the United States, making it his permanent residence in 1990.
Each of his experiences has taught him a passion for knowledge about the art as well as continuously developing new ways to explore and expand his creativity.
Written By Gussie Fauntleroy
Integrity and Aesthetics Rise in an Age of Zombie Formalism
Artist. Sculptor. Creative Force. Dreamer. Visionary. Craftsman. Aesthete.
The first seven of many monikers that come to mind when considering the force of will and majesty that is contained in the work and mind of the Wimberley, Texas artist Gil Bruvel.
One of the most prolific and interesting men I know, Gil began his career in his native France as an apprentice to both his father’s cabinet making business and later, to an exclusive conservancy that taught and practiced meticulous historical art restoration. This craftsmanship and attention to fine detail, while maintaining an understanding of where his work functions in the larger picture, are the seeds of success for Gil and his beautifully organic works.
Operating seamlessly between the 3D technology that he designs with and ancient practices such as bronze casting, Gil embodies the modern Renaissance Man. He accepts that we are in a new age of modernism, but insists on aesthetic dignity in an era that embraces a staunch primitivism and minimal skill. The rampant Anti-Aestheticism and simplified palettes hold no ground for someone clearly at home with centuries of mannerism, craft and polished artisanal approaches to his visions. He is anchored in tradition and training but thinks like a revolutionary.
The different collections I have seen developed, ranging from the Flow series, the Cubist series, his functional art collection, the chess boards and his evocative paintings all embrace a sense of passionate serenity. Strong but fluid, his work has a through line that speaks to the environments he surrounds himself with, his love for the beauty of the human form and his sense of geometric experimentation. While pushing the boundaries of the expectations of formal sculpture, the work opens up the viewer’s own potential for abstract possibilities.
This organic conversation not only reflects the spirituality of a thinking artist, but one who strives to create a community of collaboration with each piece. His team of assistants, protégés, casters and friends all seem to be integrated with his process while maintaining a singular voice that could only come from Gil Bruvel himself. In this sense, I have thought of Joseph Beuys whose philosophy of teaching and ‘social sculpture’ included the culture and society from which the work emanated. Although Gil is clearly a successful modern artist, the pieces contain the hands of many, as they travel back out into the world, adorning every level of class and institution, from the collectors to group shows of emerging work to corporate sponsorship. The ability to make work that is highly valued while not compromising your personal veracity and vision carries his practice into a realm of the sublime.
I fondly recall one of the first conversations I had with Gil, at the opening of one of my exhibitions in Austin, Texas, where he asked me, with complete sincerity, “How do you make money as a conceptual artist?” We laughed as I shrugged my shoulders and admitted that I was still working on that angle. Emerging conceptual work is not always recognized by the art market at large, unless the selling points can be attached to a branded name or a movement.
Continually fearless, Gil now looks to expand his sculptural series into single editions of a more provocative nature. This is an artist not lost in his own process, but constantly in conversation with the movements and changes in the larger conversation within the contemporary art world. Underscored by both spiritual savvy and strong opinions about the visual culture he belongs to, Gil is developing a new body of work in response to the body politic and the graphics of this age of technology. Unlike the primitivism of millennial flash art, he has the advantage of true craftsmanship on his side to birth extraordinary pieces that add a new and unforeseen side of this modern master of mediums. The rise of formal aestheticism as a new avenue for bold contemporary art will be revealed in this new unique body of work from Gil Bruvel.
Alyssa Taylor Wendt
Artist and Filmmaker
4 March 2016
A longer and more complete version written by Gussie Fauntleroy
…The variation can be infinite. Every possibility can be there at any time. It’s not magic, but it feels like magic…
~ Gil Bruvel
Gil Bruvel politely declines to describe his work using words ending in ism, not because they categorize, but perhaps because they imply that his work exists within certain boundaries, or that it has somehow completed its evolution.
Bruvel began his artistic journey as a boy of enormous intelligence and creative imagination living in the south of France, where he was immersed in Europe’s rich cultural atmosphere and was meticulously trained in art history and artistic tools and techniques spanning a period of six centuries. He was supported and encouraged by his family and teachers as a young artist, and finally set free to follow and express his vision. Never having lost a boundless sense of curiosity, self-discovery, and creative drive, he continues his intellectual and emotional adventure, constantly exploring new creative methods and tools. The results are complex, compelling works that visually and viscerally define themselves more powerfully than any isms that might be employed to label his art.
Bruvel’s artistic process begins with the observation, gathering, and coalescence of mental, sensory, and emotional images and impressions, from the smallest to the universal, which he thoroughly processes over time before even touching his art-making implements—sketching pencil, brushes, or modeling tools. By then a clear vision has emerged, guiding the artist to what a piece is intended to be. As he translates this vision into material form, he is unencumbered by adherence to any notion of commodity or trend. Consequently, what he creates is always genuine, beautiful, and thought provoking.
Born of French parents in Australia in 1959, Bruvel was raised in southern France. As a boy he began expressing himself through drawing and painting. In his father’s cabinetmaking shop he learned early about precision and three-dimensional design by carving and creating in wood. As a young teen, accepted into a respected art restoration workshop, he received an intensive hands-on education in art techniques and history, beginning with the Old Masters through 20th-century modern art. He began visiting the United States in the mid-1980s, had his first American solo show—a sell-out—in Laguna Beach, Ca. in 1988, and settled in this country in 1990.
Since then he has passionately followed an organic flow of artistic expression through a range of mediums and forms. Among them: painting, graphite pencil, bronze, functional furniture, mixed media, public sculpture, and works in stainless steel. “I find continual and ever-changing inspiration in the constant discovery of the infinite layers of my surroundings,” Bruvel says. “If there is an intention to understand and completely open oneself up to what is being observed, then patterns start to define themselves and intuitively assemble into interesting pieces of artwork. ”
Young Gil never had any intention of becoming an art restorer. He also had no intention of following his father’s footsteps into cabinetmaking—which of course his father knew. And when his mother, a classically trained piano teacher, sat him down at a piano to pass on the musical passion she shared with her husband and which blossomed in Gil’s older brother, she quickly realized her younger son’s artistic journey was not meant to follow that particular path. Interpreting someone else’s creation was too constraining for Gil. He needed to run in his own wide-open field. But by age 14 he also knew he needed artistic methods and tools.
Not quite old enough for acceptance into the art restoration school, he submitted to a half-year of testing by the institution’s faculty to make sure his interest was not a fleeting teenage fancy. It wasn’t. At 15 Gil passed the entrance exams and was accepted into a 3½-year program that taught the use of tools and techniques needed to restore artwork produced from the 14th to the 20th centuries, which included paintings, frescoed walls and ceilings, and hand-carved, gilded sculptures. Intensive hands-on instruction even included reproducing brushes from earlier centuries to recreate specific brushstrokes and using high tech tools to examine paintings and understand the deeper layers of a painting. Simultaneously, the students were introduced to the cultural and political systems, and even the clothing styles of each era studied.
But it was not all about the past. There were live-drawing classes every night, museum and gallery visits, and a keen awareness of current art movements and significant artists of the time. The students, most of whom were much older than Gil, engaged in the “typical French argumentative way of debating about art,” as he puts it. His fellow students also encouraged him to pursue his own painting and to develop a body of work for an exhibition that summer, which he did. And with those first sales—albeit at very modest prices—came a revelation: Although since early boyhood he never once doubted that he should be an artist, now he knew he was capable of making a living through his art.
When Bruvel was in his mid 20s his paintings caught the attention of the Georges Cziffra Foundation near Paris. Headed by Hungarian-French musical interpreter and pianist Cziffra, the organization awarded residential fellowships to budding musicians. That year for the first time, however, young painters and writers were included in its worldwide talent search. As part of the fellowship Bruvel moved into Cziffra Foundation facility, where he lived near the pianist and his wife and was immersed in the social and fundraising end of music and art promotion. One significant consequence of this experience for Bruvel was a demystification of celebrity artists, which in turn helped him to embrace his own artistic vision—and to conform to no other.
When he decided to turn his attention westward to the United States in 1987, Bruvel brought with him his own equation for artistic success, one that accepts moments of failure as a natural part of the process and understands that perseverance is the key. He presented his work to galleries in New York, Florida, and California—821 in all—before making a connection that clicked. At a satellite gallery owned by a Beverly Hills blue chip art gallery, he was introduced to a gallery director who was about to open a new art space in Laguna Beach, California. Bruvel’s first solo show in the new gallery sold out. He moved to Los Angeles, later spent 12 years Maui, Hawaii, and eventually settled in his present home in the Texas Hill Country, just southwest of Austin.
Having a deep understanding of art history, it is inevitable that certain artists have inspired and influenced Bruvel’s approach. Early on these tended to be the surrealists, including Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, and Giorgio de Chirico. Later, painters such as Francis Bacon and Robert Matta were among the sparks that fired his imaginative flame. “When I was a young artist it was all about the impulse, instincts, the single-minded vision to create something mostly from feelings and images popping into my mind,” he has said.
These days Bruvel is particularly drawn to the originality and sculptural vision of certain architects, among them, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, and Lebbeus Woods. Still, he moves effortlessly from one medium, one form of expression, one idea to the next through his prodigious perceptive power and intuitive ability to grasp and retain ephemeral images as they flicker and dart through his sensory, emotional, and intellectual fields. For Bruvel, the act of creating art is synonymous with the discovery of—and often the conscious re-ordering of—such images, while seeking to translate ephemeral qualities of human experience into solid form. The sensation of wind across the skin, for example, or the exquisitely subtle energetic arc that bridges distance, either immeasurably small or overwhelmingly vast; the seemingly random patterns that emerge and coalesce.
Paradoxically, it is perhaps the artist’s deep inner stillness, gained in part through the practice of meditation and present moment awareness, that assists him in capturing things that will not stand still. The beauty of Bruvel’s achievement is that unseen elements of life are given life in such aesthetically compelling, wonderfully tangible, touchable form that we feel what his work suggests, viscerally and intuitively, without need for words. And we know, with pleasure, that Gil Bruvel’s extraordinary creative well will not run dry.
~ Gussie Fauntleroy