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Shaun El C. Leonardo

Studio Interior
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Studio Location
Self-portrait superhero - sign enamel on plywood cutout, 72 x 60 x 3/4 in, 2005
Self-portrait Azua (Devil, install view) - enamel on plywood cutout installed on vinyl wallpaper, 144 x 156 x 3/4 in., 2009
Self-portrait Azua (Zulu) - pencil on paper, 44 x 30 in., 2008
Bull in the Ring - performance, 8 min. at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, 10/8/08. Photo by Marshall Astor
Battle Royal - performance, 3 hrs. at Nuit Blanche, Toronto, Canada 10/3/09. Photo by Bob Martus
Shaun El C.
Artist's Statement

My artwork extends from an internal investigation of the childhood role models, popular icons and cultural stereotypes that influenced how I perceive what it means to be a man. By projecting myself as hyper-masculine heroes, I manifest the ongoing tensions between my desires to represent male virility and the vulnerabilities within my identity developed by these images of power.

With plywood cutout paintings I isolate forms, allowing me to play with strategies 
of exclusion and invisibility. Through performance, on the other hand, I personify this iconography rather than depict its imagery.
Whether painting, drawing, sculpture or performance, my work relates the confusion, desperation and, often times, failure we experience when attempting to either locate ourselves within our popular cultures or aspire to their unattainable ideals.


Shaun El C. Leonardo received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and currently lives/works in Queens, New York City – the borough in which he was born and raised. He has received residencies/grants from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, The New York Studio School, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Art Matters, New York Foundation for the Arts and McColl Center for Visual Art. El C.’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and is represented by Praxis International Art, New York/Miami/Buenos Aires and RHYS/MENDES, Sao Pãolo/Los Angeles; with upcoming solo presentations in Lisbon, São Paolo and New York City.