The rain had just stopped. Roofs were damp and the roads slippery. But that didn’t stop a throng of people from making their way to Gallery 371, an art space in Marrickville just across Enmore Park in inner city Sydney. On a Friday night, an anxious but ecstatic Filipino-Australian artist Mark Bravo opened his first art exhibit, ‘Sounds Familiar’.

Mark said it was a dream come true. “I’ve passed by this gallery many times and I’ve always stopped and said, one day, I’ll have my first exhibit there.”

Gallery owner Louise Beck is also an artist. The short path to the restroom from the main space was littered with stacks of paintings, most of them nudes and portraits, among her latest works.

But Mark was right in picking the venue out of all the options around the area. The crowd moved comfortably on the floor, taking a few steps across the aisles to observe his paintings. There was a kitchenette at the back, allowing for easy servicing of food and drinks to a mostly Filipino crowd.

Louise was effusive in her praise of Mark. “He’s such a lovely guy. Very humble. Very respectful.”

Modesty is one of Mark’s best traits and belies the impressive body of work he had prepared. Some of the paintings were created before and during the pandemic.


The exhibit name ‘Sounds familiar’ comes from the way he creates his art: he sees the sounds in his mind and puts them on the canvas. Or in this case, his medium of choice: acrylic on wood panels. An unusual pairing, Mark’s art takes on the form of both what he created and the malleable shape and textures of wood. A rare combination that sets his painting series apart from other artists.

One of his guests was Daisy Ann Gonzalez Cumming, a well-known Filipino-Australian artist, who gave Mark praise for launching out into the world. “As an artist, your first exhibit is precious,” she said, urging everyone to buy his art while they are still at the price of a new artist.

Mark’s works were all under $1,500 and most were priced at $900.

“Very cheap!” she raised her hand to punctuate her point.

Mark looked embarrassed. Money seemed like a conversation for another day but Daisy had a point about the opportunity to buy early artworks before an artist becomes famous.

One guest initially wanted to buy the familiar: an artwork where her favourite colour was the dominant colour. But a little bit later, she decided to pick something else that was very different. “My husband would like looking at that,” she was overheard saying.

Another guest bought a painting because he could see himself in it. It is true that art is a reflection of ourselves. A mirror that we hold up against our own feelings and desires.

In between a few glasses of red wine, ham and cheese trays, and cups of hot tea, guests mingled and talked about which ones were their favourites. A child dashed across the floor. A woman with blue hair, headphones around her neck, spoke about how tempted she was to touch a spot on a painting over and over again.

By 9pm, guests started to leave, but not without signing their names on a corkboard specially brought in to capture everyone’s well-wishes.

Mark gave everyone a hug, a kiss or a firm handshake, as they walked out of the gallery, thankful that they came. Then he slapped his forehead, “Oh, wait, I forgot to take photos.”

But did he have to? More than pixels of pictures on a phone, he has art.

Sounds familiar
Acrylic on wood panels
Gallery 371
371 Enmore Rd, MarrickvilleOn show from- 4-12th May
Gallery will be open daily from 10am-4pm

 Follow Mark Bravo on IG: @bravomarks

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