Swollen Icons and Beautiful Trauma the Erotic Art of JC Bravo

Where does the inspiration come from to paint vivacious ‘swollen icons’ or Zaftig female figures?

My inspiration to create these characters comes from beautiful Trauma. I had a sexualized childhood and have very vivid recollections of intense moments that shaped my life and artistic aesthetic. My voluptuous women are inspired by the Latin women I grew up seeing around me and fantasizing about. The male characters are inspired by the feelings I have experienced when I see a powerful woman. The source of my creativity is the power of femininity. I call my male characters SWOLLEN ICONS because I feel that when men are aroused the swell spirituality and physically. The feeling of blood flow from excitement inspired me to express myself and create these unique figures. They are also inspired by a memory of a deformed boy I saw back when I was 7 years old. His image is imprinted in my mind and somehow it pours into my work. One of the strongest memories that have shaped my art happened when I was a pre teen surfing in Miami Beach. While I surfed in small shore break waves a gorgeous tanned Brazilian woman approached me and asked if I could teach her how to surf. When she laid down on my surfboard I looked at her muscular and plump derriere and time seemed to stand still. She was wearing a thong and was flirting with me. She was an older married woman and was just having some fun, but for me it was serious. That memory inspired my inclination for zaftig female figures and bubble butts. Most of my work is highly personal and evolve daily experiences. And the pain and melancholy in my work is due to youthful unrequited love.

There is a strong Freudian id theme in your work have you read any Sigmund Freud? Cal Jung? what are your views on sexuality and art?

Yes, I have read and studied about them. When I graduated high school I wanted to be a psychologist. I did 4 years in college and when I was about to graduate Psych school I had a change of heart and pursued art. In the end I graduated with a major in visual arts and a minor in psychology. They were very influential to my creative process. Because of them and the surrealists I started delving into my memories to create. I loved that they gave importance to the private worlds in our subconscious. I love sexuality and sensuality; some of the greatest works of art have been driving by this primal force. I think sexuality is beautiful and powerful. I don’t see it as a sin but as a gift, the ultimate feeling in the world has to offer us. It’s the source of creativity and life. A perfect example of how the power of sexuality inspired art and helped change the world was Picasso’s “Les demoiselle D’Avognon”. That painting became the face of an art revolution that led to modern art and it was inspired by the women in a brothel. Picasso once said that sex and art are the same, I agree.

There is an infant, a consort often accompanying your female figures, who is he?

That figure is usually a self portrait. He represents the way I feel. When there are more than one of these little figures its usually a statement on society, the male condition. That’s the simple way to talk about them but I feel these characters have several layers and can signify many things, it all depends on the viewer. Sometimes this character is a SWOLLEN ICON and sometimes he can be a HYBRID. The hybrids in my work represent animalistic urges. One of my favorite painters is Bosch and I look to his array of menacing hybrids are inspiration for these thought process. My paintings can symbolize emotions but at the same time can be read as social commentary.

How do you process ideas from the subconscious and find inspiration on a daily basis?

I like to create art through the surrealist practice of automatism. I let the work unfold before me as work without conceptual restraints and flow with the material I am using. I love the initial process of discovery and uncertainty. Sometimes I am inspired by a dream or an experience and choose to try and capture that vision. But most of the time I prefer to work intuitively. I have coined the word SENSUALISM as my art style because it is heavily influence by surrealism and sensuality. I love art history and I feel my work is in constant dialogue with past art.

Were there other writers made a major influence on the way you thought about reality?

I love the works by existential writers the likes of Albert Camus, Hermann Hesse, Oscar Wilde, Kafka, Bukowski and Nabokov. Oscar Wilde’s book “A picture of Dorian Grey’ is forever inspiration for me. He was one of the first artists that showed me that one could create great art by exposing subconscious desires and fears. I also love the book “Narcissus and Goldmund” by Herman Hesse. In this book I love the way Hesse poetically depicts the life and struggles of the visionary artist. Besides loving books I am also a huge film buff. I love all genres. I find inspiration seeing and taking notes while I watch great films. My favorite filmmakers are David Lynch, David Cronenberg and Alejandro Jodorowsky. Some of my favorite all time films are; THE ELEPHAT MAN, AMADEUS, ROCKY, SANTA SANGRE and LEGEND. I also wouldn’t be able to create without music. I love creating while jamming to my favorite bands. I love the energy in heavy metal, punk rock and retro new wave; bands like Audioslave and Metallica keep me stoked while I work.

Favorite artists?

My favorite artists are Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Jan van Eyck, Robert crumb, Ingres. If you look carefully you will see their influence in my work. They have heavily informed my art through the years. I have actually seen Their work in person and have been changed by it. I can remember the time my wife and I took a trip to Paris to visit the Louvre museum and I was blown away the art of Jan Van Eyck. I stood in front of one of his oil paintings for an hour, mesmerized and touched by the sheer technical prowess. When I got home from the trip I decide I wanted to paint like him and dedicate my life to the love of color, sensuality and care.

What can you tell us about your spirituality of surfing and staying healthy?

I have been surfing on and off since I was a child. To me surfing is a way to connect spiritually with nature and the higher power. Surfing is so pure and freeing, it nourishes me every time I go for a session. This feeling can be very addicting and dangerous so I have to limit my time in the water or I can get consumed by it and not get work done. I grew up in Miami Beach. I lived very close to the beach and have hung out most of my life there. All of my art is inspired by the culture of abundance and excess I witness on a day to day living here. One of my favorite paintings I have created was inspired by an accident I had surfing. The piece is called Broken Mirror and I painted it while I was recovering from a broken nose. I put all the pain and beauty I felt for life at that moment in that painting. It now hangs in my home as a reminder and it is my prized possession. After that accident I stopped surfing for a few years but I couldn’t stay away for long. Now I can say that my love for surfing is back and is stronger than ever. Surfing has given me some of the most beautiful memories and frightening moments in my life, I learn from it constantly. When I was very young my sister Giuliana bought me my first surfboard, she was the reason I began surfing, I think she believed that surfing would keep me out of trouble and help me find an identity. She was right. When she died on of cancer a few years ago I promised her that I would surf for her. So nowadays I don’t just surf for pleasure but also to keep her memory alive.

JC Bravo

I work primarily with oil paints. It is important for me to achieve a jewel like preciousness in my paintings in order to convey care and importance. I want to give my paintings a monumental and sensual quality that I believe can only be achieved with oil. Also, oil painting gives my work an elegance that balances the sometimes grotesque and fantastical subject matter.

If you would like to know more about me and see more of my work visit my website:



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