Exhibition Leonardo Ávila
By Cynthia Campbell
Leonardo Ávila opened an exhibition of recent art on August 20, which will continue to be on display at the restaurant Los Olivos de Denver at 20 de Enero Sur 44 in colonia San Antonio. The title of the show is “Landscapes of San Miguel” and is comprised of 17 large pastel paintings on paper. They depict the landscapes and people encountered by Avila on his many extensive walks in and around San Miguel de Allende. Many of the paintings are night scenes with dramatic skies and lighting.
Ávila, born in Mexico City in 1965, started drawing at the age of 8, competing in the Nino del Mar competitions sponsored by the navy, earning a purchase prize. He apprenticed in the sculpture studio of Eleazar Martínez in the Zona Rosa of Mexico City. He has shown his work in the past in both San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato.
In 1990, Ávila moved to New York City, where he started a career as a chef, which he has pursued since then in New York, New Jersey, and Mexico, including several years as a culinary instructor at the University in Guanajuato and at ICATEC as a culinary teacher. He moved to San Miguel de Allende in 2009.
He paints the way he cooks, starting with a formalized idea, a recipe, or a natural scene of beauty. He then applies the ingredients in a way that heightens the experience of the individual components, creating a complete experience for the viewer or the diner. “I think of the art like my recipes; I start in black and white and then the color comes along.”
His intention is to create art that will survive his life. When asked “Why pastel?” he answers, “Because it is just dust and paper, as fragile as life.” He loves the challenge of pastels: “You cannot mix colors; there is no room for mistakes.” He mostly uses black paper, which accentuates the dark emotion of his nighttime scenes. His subject matter includes the high desert and cactus. He portrays their “resilience and survival,” documenting San Miguel as it is now, knowing that it will change in the future.
The paintings are on display through September 6 and are available to purchase from the artist. Enjoy the exhibition and a fine Italian meal at Los Olivos.