Leonardo Montoya was born in Medellin Colombia in 1972. He entered the Eladio Vélez School of Fine Art in 1985 whit only 12 y/o.
In 1991 he had his first art exhibition in Medellin, Colombia. In 1992 he won his first mural commission at the Cinema Las Américas in Medellin, which is still on exhibit today.
From 1995 to 1996 he taught art at the National Academy of Arts in Medellin and worked as an illustrator of medical books for the University of Antioquia.
He immigrated to the United States in 1998, chasing the American dream.
In 2002, Montoya was awarded the first prize in the Hispanic Heritage poster contest in Tampa, FL, and again in 2007. In 2004 and 2011, he won the second prize in the same competition.
In 2010, he had the opportunity to study classical drawing at the Grand Central Academy in NYC. There he studied with instructors such as Jon de Martin and Scott Waddell.
In 2015 he began a series of exhibitions with his Diva collection, a work that highlights the character of the female figure, full of vibrant colors and three-dimensional effects.
2018 was a great year for his career, he was part of an international exhibition in the UAE at the Ras Al Khaimah fine arts festival where he was awarded the title of Artist of the Year.
In 2020 he won a residency period in RAK, Emirates with the Al Qasimi Foundation, due to the Covid-19 pandemic the residence period took place from Jan- Apr. 2021.
Currently, he’s part of another residence period at Bailey Contemporary Arts in Pompano Beach, FL. He just got awarded a Grant from the Broward County Cultural Division that will help with an upcoming solo art exhibition in 2024.
I believe the universal language of the arts can break through cultural and personal barriers bringing us closer together as human beings.
I was raised by a strong and loving community of women. They have been a big influence throughout my life. Common themes represented in my work are cultural diversity, gender equality, race, and the empowerment of women. I offer my perspective about the characters that I portray that remain close to my heart.
Portraying the uniqueness and strength of the individual allows me to speak to the sameness of our humanity in parallel to the beauty of our cultural differences. I do this with a deep sense of respect and admiration for the characters I choose to portray.
As a Latino living in the US for half of my life, creating my own identity has become one of the many challenges in my artworks. Things like education, family, money, politics, religion, and sex had a big influence on my life and career. All those topics help to define who I am; but, our nature is complex and should not be a label for the social need to look for acceptance. I think we all are multi-dimensional.
I always admired beauty, but not only in the obvious stereotype. I always find beauty in the oddest of subjects. Color, lines, composition, and style are important things to consider when I chose an image or character to portray.
As years passed by, I found my inner voice.
I believed that what makes us equal is that we are all different.