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Francesca Gabbiani

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Francesca Gabbiani
Contemporary (post 1945) Printmaker
(Montreal, Canada, 1965 - )

Born in Canada and raised in Switzerland, Francesca Gabbiani received her M.F.A. from UCLA in 1997. Gabbiani's work was featured in the Hammer museum's 2001 Projects series and in Basel and London. With its focus on local buildings (exteriors along Echo Park Avenue, near the artist's studio, were the subject of an earlier body of work) and its ability to convey the sense of placelessness one can experience in a sprawling, mobile city, Gabbiani's art is unlikely to have flourished anywhere but here. The artist's most recent show at Karyn Lovegrove Gallery, in L.A.'s Miracle Mile, consisted of moderate-size images of public interiors: bars, theater lobbies, hotel hallways, rest rooms. From a distance it's difficult at first to tell whether these are paintings or photographs. The genetic decorator carpeting, furniture, and color schemes of Gabbiani's locations cause them to teeter between anonymity and familiarity, stirring in the viewer a dim but persistent deja vu. Yet no matter how hard one tries to place these rooms, they remain stubbornly unlocatable. On closer inspection one discovers that Gabbiani's interiors are made entirely from hand-cut paper. A single collage uses several sheets, painstakingly arranged and glued to a flat surface. Her material--with its matte finish, lack of texture, and evenly saturated hues--is in part what makes the images so baffling. Gabbiani's working methods are complex; she begins by digitizing a photograph and from it produces transparent overlays that guide her in cutting out the elements of each interior. The process of breaking down and reconstructing a single image can take months. While she works Gabbiani edits out a fair amount of detail to arrive at an image that will be true to the photographic original and yet, unlike a straightforward photograph, will delay recognition for as long as possible. Standing before one of her collages is like remembering a place whose long-ago importance has been eroded by time, preventing you from calling back its key features. What you're left with is an impression that, on one hand, has been distilled to its visual essence and, on the other, is a vague approximation. Although the artist approaches the making of her work with a kind of scientific detachment (Gabbiani's parents were scientists), her sensibility is deeply elegiac; her collages lament that the specificity of everything we see is constantly in the process of fading, and that the vivid scenes embedded in our memory will sooner or later grow less distinct. ("Speak, memory: Hirsch Perlman and Francesca Gabbiani search for the ethereal" Los Angeles Magazine,  Nov, 2002  by Bernard Cooper)


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