About the Artist Gabe Leonard
Works By Gabe Leonard
An Educated Guess
It Takes More Than Talent
There are overtures of fellow American, Todd White found in Leonardís never-far-from-the-surface humour, whilst the often poignant, always indignant tale-telling elements echo that of British artist, Craig Davison to our mind. Yet Leonardís is a unique talent and one which demands visually exploring as soon as you first clap your eyes on its existence. Spending his formative years growing up in the mountain state of Wyoming, Leonard was surrounded by nature at its most dramatic and pictorially compelling, and when he first reached for a pencil and brush it was almost inevitable that the subject matter which manifested itself would turn out to be wildlife. Showing an early entrepreneurial streak to go with his very obvious creative one, Leonard started selling his wildlife sketches to fellow students at his school for a dollar a time.
Leonard went on to attend Columbus College in Ohio, where he plumped to study for a BA in Fine Art, before taking a massive leap of faith and relocating to the almost polar opposite landscape and cultural surrounds which he was used to having grown up in rural America, namely Los Angeles. Whilst there and getting his bearings, Leonard was said to have initially developed and honed his illustrative skillset on the mega competitive boardwalk of Venice Beach itself; a historic mecca for all manner of artists and creative spirits. It wasnít long before Leonardís work started to attract the right sort of attention in a town where everyone seems connected to movers and shakers across the creative industries, and in the fullness of time Ė and obviously after much hard work and dedication to his cause Ė Leonard rose in prominence and earned the kind of reputation that can cement whether or not you make it. following on from a string of sell-out exhibitions, Leonardís powerful and evocative graphic work was noticed by some of the more high profile collectors out there, and since the best-selling contemporary figurative artist has steadily become acknowledged as one of the most sought-after artisans of his particular craft in the world today; finding his portfolio of works in constant demand across the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia amongst other places.
Returning to the cinematic qualities we touched on above, and Leonardís brand of stylised and enigmatically portrayed artwork has been referred to on many an occasion as being artistically akin to ĎJohnny Cash meets Quentin Tarantinoí; which as comparisons and/or descriptions go is right up there with anyone of a creative persuasion, weíre pretty sure. Leonardís visual strength sees him routinely capture rich moods by fusing the free, limitless brushworks of an overtly expressive artist with the lighting and framing of what might be considered in certain quarters as a seasoned Hollywood cinematographer. Itís clear to see that Leonard is a long-time connoisseur of the less populist and mainstream, film noir approach to film, courtesy of his perceivably rugged and romantic characterisations evident, whilst he seamlessly blends this observed technical brilliance for figurative painting with a effortlessly crafted cinematic atmosphere which transcends the one dimensional surface material he chooses to pit his creative wits against. The resultant snapshots are positively rammed with a plethora of narrative possibilities and outcomes to those casually looking in from the outside.
Citing the revered and much practised likes of Rembrandt, Mucha, Klimt and Schiele as his inspirations and more than that, heroes, Leonard style is without question rooted in a more European tradition of art, while his now trademark runs and drips are said to offer a deliberate and almost blasť break from the academic restrictions which beset many of his peers, consciously or otherwise. Thereís an undeniable expression of freedom in Leonardís work, loose and fluid which suggests an ease with himself as an artist and a non-conformity which affords him this repeated opportunity to go forth and project and ultimately convey precisely the work that he wants to as an artist, rather than any pre-conditioned expectations of others.