Leonardo Barreto is a Nicaraguan-born abstract expressionist painter based in San Jose, Costa Rica. His work strikes a balance between chaos and order, where his creative force manifests as color explosions on canvas. The bright, vivid streaks he creates are reminiscent of the lush tropical landscape he calls home. Barreto never plans or sketches prior to beginning a painting, saying his painterly process is intuitive. He likens this spontaneous approach to “excavating, digging forms and shapes,” an expedition of sorts that is free from the confines of the conscious mind.
Barreto worked for many years as a photographer in Tokyo and New York City. His meticulous immersion in the photographic medium clearly paved the way for his paintings. The New Yorker, reviewing a show of his photographs, presciently called them “large, painterly, almost abstract color prints [that]…have the stateliness of portraits and the numinousness of private mantras.” Barreto was also chosen to document the oeuvre of Willem de Kooning, and his intimate acquaintance with de Kooning’s technique inspired him to interpret visual art in a more fragmented way. His creative energies shifted to painting thereafter.
In 2004, he attended the Universidad Iberoamericana, in Mexico City, where he studied abstract painting, and for the past decade has produced large-format acrylic paintings on canvas. His paintings have been exhibited in the Galeria Nota and the Galeria Alternativa in La Paz, Bolivia, the Galeria Praxis in Managua, and currently at Van Der Plas Gallery on New York’s Lower East Side.