Armed with boxing gloves, bows and arrows, sharp spears, and solemn trumpets, the women portrayed by Amy Bravo have the air of warrior deities. From one canvas to the next, their snakes and whips resemble Furies, the vengeful goddesses of Greco-Roman mythology, while their wings and steeds bring them closer to Valkyries, the celestial horsewomen of Norse myths. While others, who swallow the sun, spit fire, or multiply their faces tenfold, could well embody the goddesses Oya and Oshun, mistresses of the elements in Yoruba beliefs.

For several years now, the young American artist, born in New Jersey in 1997, has been using drawing, painting, and sculpture to explore her Cuban roots, shaping her vision of the country of her ancestors. The result is a fantasized island charged with mysticism, where bulls, roosters, horses, and these virile Amazons coexist. These figures could be called ‘Queer’ – existing as they do in an in-between world, free from the canons that have for so long governed representations of the female body in the West. They are figures capable of physically embodying the ambivalence between strength and vulnerability, of merging with the animal, and surrendering their bodies to procreation.

These figures are not the only ones to step out of the frame for Bravo, whose imagination literally spills out of the canvas. In one, a flag-waving hand protrudes from the wall; in another, a lasso extends over the frame. In her works, the artist likes to combine reclaimed shelves, birdhouses, and bovine skulls, embroider red thread onto fabric, and even shape forms in foam or epoxy. The abundance of spirit takes shape in lively yet ethereal forms. We feel the influence of Belkis Ayón, Betye Saar, and Kiki Smith – all, in their own way, art magicians.

As with these figures from previous generations, Bravo’s dense works never seem saturated or aggressive – they are airy, with the diluted pigment powders on the unbleached surface bathing the ensembles in soft, luminous hues. But also through the finesse and simplicity of the line and the virtual absence of relief, the work returns to the very essence of the secular and universal practice of drawing.

At Semiose, Bravo will soon present her second solo exhibition in France, unveiling the new adventures of her heroines. Like the mysteries of the Tarot de Marseille, these new pieces in the puzzle allow her to better decipher her inner self.


Amy Bravo is represented by Semiose (Paris) and Swivel Gallery (New York).

Her solo exhibition ‘I’m Going There With You’ runs from March 16 to April 27, 2024 at Semiose, Paris.

Matthieu Jacquet is a journalist and art critic based in Paris. He writes about art and fashion for Numéro and Numéro art.

Credits of the top image: Amy Bravo, The Strongest Alive or Dead, 2024. Photograph by Pauline Assathiany. Courtesy of Semiose, Paris.

Published on March 14, 2024.