"I believe in revising classical methods of art to create a more contemporary form of expression. My art mirrors life and the social issues of our time, while revealing the historical aspects of humanity that continue to govern and motivate us even today. In my work, the human figure is the constant denominator drawing on classical interpretation and moving into surrealism that symbolizes the echo of human nature and motivation through time. With a foundation for serious commentary, I employ the levity of humor so that people can grasp the meaning without feeling too challenged by the message."
Darwin Leon was born in 1972 in Santiago de las Vegas a small town in Havana, Cuba. In 1987, Leon's family sought refuge from the political and economical crisis in Cuba, and departed to Spain, then later continued to the United States to settle in Miami. Leon earned his Bachelors in Fine Arts from Miami International University of Art & Design, where he attended as a recipient of the "Visual Arts Scholarship Award of Excellence" and received Best in Show at his first Juried Student Exhibition. His first direction was expressed through religious portraits. However, he found a greater enthusiasm for figurative and expressionistic forms in which he incorporated satire and irony through surrealism and cubism. Leon's work is energetic, fresh, alive and abundant with color.
Leon's art combines aspects of the masters of the Renaissance, including the technique of chiaroscuro, with his own surreal style, which he refers to as Expressionistic Surrealism. Scenic images portray the nature of expressive design through the movement of action and textured aspects. With a sharp sense of humor and figurative imagination, Darwin Leon details the social context of pseudo-political, human involvement with a gift for enhanced form and characterization. Displaying the imbalances of society with a satirical perspective, his artistic creations animate the discontinuities of the post industrial order. Leon's paintings play on the interpersonal deceptions that move a society.
For four years, Darwin Leon was an Arts Instructor for drawing, painting, anatomy and modern painting at the South Florida Arts Center, Miami Beach. He currently resides with his wife and two children in Bradenton, Florida, where he teaches "The Dynamic Human Figure" at the Art Center there and at the Carrollwood Cultural Center in Tampa, Florida.
A personal quote:
"There is nothing like painting strange images and listening to electronic dance music with a cup of coffee at three in the morning in pure connection with the universe"
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Born in Cuba, Santiago de las Vegas, Havana in 1972
2005 - Miami International University of Art and Design. (BFA/ Visual Arts-Painting)
*Selective Solo Exhibitions:
2009 - "Perceptual Shift", Dharma Studio Contemporary Art, Coconut Grove, Fl
"New work", Carrollwood Cultural Center, Tampa, Fl
2008 - "Surreal Reality of an Ironic Society" Green Bull Gallery at The Village of the Arts, Bradenton, Fl
2007 - “Art Revolutions-A neo Renaissance Resurrection”, The Gallery at Eissey Campus, Palm Beach Community College.
2005-2006 - “The End of Mediocrity III”, Optical Spectrum, Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale, FL
2005 - “The End of Mediocrity II”, Gallery of the Unknown Artist, Hollywood, FL
2004 - “The End of Mediocrity I”, at Joffreys’s Coffee - Kendall, Miami.
2003 - “The World in Disguise III”, at Joffrey’s Coffee- Kendall, Miami.
“New Work”, City Hall - Hollywood, Florida.
2002 - “The World in Disguise II”, at Joffrey’s Coffee - Lincoln Road.
“The World in Disguise I”, The Urban Village Gallery - Coconut Grove.
“Phantom of the Bass, The Surrealistic Work of Darwin Leon”, Bass Museum of Art.
“The Cubistic Surrealistic World of Darwin Leon”, Art Wednesdays at Macarena's South Beach
Ongoing exhibition in Coconut Grove at The Urban Village Gallery.
2001 - "Soul Expressions", South Art Gallery in Portobello Restaurant in Coral Gables.
"The Magical World Of Darwin Leon", at The Latin American Art Museum as part of the "Two Cuban Artists in Exile" exhibition at Little Havana Cultural Fridays.
"Satirical Rhymes". Casa Panza Restaurant and Gallery as part of Little Havana. Cultural Fridays.
"Satirical Encounters". Meet the Artist series at Coral Gables International Art Center.
2000 - "Meet the Artist series", Coral Gables International Art Center.
1999 - "Sarcastic Satire", The Wallflower Gallery, Downtown Miami.
*Selective Group Exhibitions:
2008 - Dharma Studio Contemporary Art, "Regeneration" a celebration of change, Coconut Grove, Fl
2007 - Tampa Museum of Art - Alianza Hispana of Tampa Bay, Calendar contest winner of the month of December 2008
2006 -“The Skills Room I & II”, Student and Instructor exhibit at the ArtCenter South Florida, Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
Collection Privee, Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
2005 - Arts Summer Dreams, The City of Pembroke Pines Arts and Culture Advisory Board, Pembroke Pines Glass Gallery, Florida.
2004 - Art & Music Festival 2004, Downtown Hollywood. 1st Prize (best in painting)
“Emergence”, Majestic Properties and Ocean Drive Magazine. A series of three exhibitions from students at Miami International of Art & Design.
“First Juried Student Show at Miami International University of Art & Design” (First Place, Best in Show)
“Miami Beach Festival of the Arts”, celebrating 30th Anniversary 2004.
“Create for a Cure, Live Art Auction”, Miami Beach Relay For Life.
2003 - “Celebrations”, 2003 Holiday Exhibition at the Arts Center in St. Petersburg, FL.
“Artelon”, Teatro Abanico in Coral Gables.
2002 - “Latin Mood”, The Exhibit Gallery in Boca Raton
2001 - “Second Thursdays”, Española Way in Miami Beach.
"United Artists", To support and contribute to Red Cross at The Green Door Gallery in downtown.
2000 - "Color and Form in America", Latin American Art Museum, as part of the Gallery Night of the Coral Gables Gallery Association.
"Sintesis de Latinoamerica", Latin American Art Museum, Coral Gables.
"ArtExpo 2000", The Florida Museum of Hispanic and Latin American Art and Batik International Art Barcelona, Spain & New York.
1999 - "Perspectiva 2000", The Florida Museum of Hispanic and Latin American Art, Coral Gables, Miami.
2003 - Layout Menu design for Joffrey’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop in Kendall Miami.
*Honors and Awards:
2007 - Alianza Hispana of Tampa Bay, Calendar contest winner of the month of December 2008
-Hispanic Alliance of Tampa Bay, Clearwater City Hall Exhibit
2004 - First Student Juried Show at AI Miami International University of Art & Design. Best in show
-Art & Music Festival in Downtown Hollywood. Best in Painting
2003 - Visual Arts Scholarship Award of Excellence at AI Miami International University of Art & Design. First place.
Joffrey’s Coffee and Restaurant, Kendall Miami
Private collections in Washington DC, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Michigan, New York, Los Angeles, Miami Beach, Tampa, Baton Rouge.
*Publications / Bibliography:
"Un Cubano marcando historia", Mi Barrio Latino, Tampa, FL (2008)
“Artist combines the classic with the surreal”, Hometown News Palm Beach County (2007)
“Pintor Cubano exhibe en PBCC”, La Palma, Palm Beach (2007)
“City Hall ‘dreams’ of art”, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, July 6, 2005
“Cubistic Surrealism” Featured artist, Closer Magazine (2004)
“Student Spotlight” – Darwin Leon, The Pulse – A student publication, winter edition- Miami International of Art & Design (2004)
“The fine art of fun”, The Herald, Sunday, October 24, 2004, Hollywood, Florida
"Exposicion Pictorica de Darwin Leon”, El Argentino, MercoSur (2001)
"Dos Pintores Cubanos en el Exilio", El Bohemio News (2001)
"Artists for the New Millenium", New Times (2000)
"Darwin leon y La Satira Como Expresion", El Argentino, MercoSur (2000)
"Works by Darwin Leon", Miami Today (2000)
"Sarcastic Satire", Discourse Magazine (1999)