Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Our Portraits Our Selves: Focus on Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso

One of the many missions of the Portrait Society of America’s Cecilia Beaux Forum is to spotlight contemporary women artists who are painting figuratively.

Another mission of CBF is to shed a retroactive spotlight on women artists in history whose powerful work often sits in museum storage.

Gabriela Dellosso’s ongoing self-portrait project…where she paints herself as female artists from history…could not have been more tailor-made to achieve these goals if the Portrait Society had commissioned her to do so.

In 2006, before she started this self-portrait project, Gabriela had a solo show, An Artist’s Journey, at The Butler Institute of American Art.  Director, Lou Zona praised and admired her work…

“…they are, in a sense, haunting works which recall the power of Surrealism, to transport us to other realms, times and places. In the end, art that endures […] transcends time and place. Dellosso’s work effectively does this and does so with a learned flair.”

Gabriela pays meticulous homage to the artists whom she poses as for her self-portraits. Her favorite historical woman painter, that started the project is the artist, Adelaide Labille-Guiard, here is Self-Portrait Homage to Adelaide Labille Guiard.

Gabriela Dellosso, Self-Portrait Homage to Adelaide Labille Guiard

“Adelaide Labille Guiard is the reason I started doing the homages to women painters. I was working on the body of work for my solo exhibition at Eleanor Ettinger for the fall of 2008, when I first saw Adelaide Labille Guiard’s magnificent painting “Self Portrait with Two Pupils.”

Adelaide Labille Guiard, Self-Portrait with Two Pupils

Gabriela Dellosso, Homage to Adelaide labille Guiard, Self-Portrait with Two Pupils

Above is one of Gabrielas first of her large homage paintings and honors her inspiration, Adelaide Labille Guiard. Gabriela says,

I was surprised, that I had never even heard of Labille-Guiard.  As I stood there in awe of the painting, I became a little angry at my ignorance of the subject of this great work of art.  I started doing research and learned a lot about this painting and why it was painted and I was deeply moved by it. In her lifetime Adelaide was dedicated to promoting women in the arts. It was amazing what she accomplished in the chaotic times of the French Revolution. I decided then and there that I would start a series, dedicated to historical women painters.  I also decided to use my image as a vehicle to re-create these women.  The first three homage self-portraits I did, were shown at my solo exhibition at Eleanor Ettinger; to my delight, they immediately sold—collectors responded to them. I felt I was doing something of importance.   Now, the homages have become an important part of my body of work.  What started as an experiment, altering my image to describe another woman, is evolving itself into more complicated paintings, that include more elements than just a self-portrait.”

The homage painting below, depicting Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun also beautifully exemplifies Gabriela’s homages. She merges her own likeness with Elisabeths and creates an iconic homage piece that “resurrects the importance of who these women are.” She happily admits she loves painting them.

Gabriela Dellosso, Self-portrait Homage to Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun

Below is one of the many paintings of Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun which inspired this tribute. Gabriela recently started a blog, Palettes and Pearls, which highlights and discusses many of the paintings that inspire her work.

Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun, Self-portrait

Gabriela extensively researches the subject of historical women painters. In her blog, Palettes and Pearls she writes about a supposed rivalry between Elisabeth and Adelaide. Both were admitted to the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture on the same day, May 31, 1783.  Art critics (like celebrity gossip rags) delight in fanning the flames of a female cat-fight…even if there was none.

Gabriela smiles a bit as her self-portrait series extends to the Netherlands, with her homage to Judith Leyster, below.

Gabriela Dellosso, Self-portrait Homage to Judith Leyster

She takes you to the world of the American Impressionists with her glowing portrait of Lilla Cabot Perry. This painting embodies the words of Gary T. Erbe’s who curated her Butler show.

“Her world is a mysterious journey into the deepest depths of the soul of humanity. She is an intellectual artist who shows a great sensitivity and respect for life. ”

Gabriela Dellosso, Self-portrait Homage to Lilla Cabot Perry

Gabriela Dellosso, Self-portrait Homage to Frida Kahlo

Thanks to Salma Hayek, Hollywood, the juicy details of her life…and of course her paintings—raw as open wounds—Frida Kahlo is now a household word. Gabriela self-portrays Frida with an elegance and sympathy that Frida does not grant her own self-portraits.

Gabriela’s works pay homage to artists and all their accomplishments, artistic and otherwise. Varo’s Moon acknowledges the inventions and scientific interests of artist, Remedios Varo.

“Remedios Varo, was a para-surrealist, her art dealt with scientific inventions, time and all that was surreal. I was captivated by her paintings Celestial Pablum and Starcatcher, which this self-portrait pays homage to.” 

In recent years, Remedios Varos work has been gaining publicity…and the art dollars that often follow. Gabriela explains that, “In the year 2000 The National Museum of Women in the Arts had a retrospective exhibition of Varo’s work, displaying more than 50 of her enigmatic works.  One of her paintings Still Life Reviving had been auctioned at Southeby’s in 1994, for $574,000, but in a more recent Southeby’s auction (2014) Remedios Varo’s painting, Hacia La Torre fetched a whopping  $4.31 million!

I hope that Gabriela Dellosso continues this self-portrait project for many years to come. Searching through history for women artists whose legacies might otherwise be lost or hidden in permanent museum storage is a truly noble pursuit, and using their likeness’ as inspiration for a self-portrait series is brilliant way to bring these trail-blazing artists into the 21st Century.

Gabriela will be having a solo exhibition at
The Harmon-MeekGallery in Naples Florida from March 29-April 10, 2015.

And in January, 2016 she is scheduled for a second solo show at the Butler Institute of American Art, in Youngstown, Ohio. Follow Butlerart.com for details.
I shall close this blog post with a classic self-portrait by Gabriela Dellosso. It is entitled, Self-portrait Painting and Poetry and honors her own image as an artist.

Gabriela Dellosso, Self-portrait Painting and Poetry

Written by Judy Takács
Chair New Media Relations
Cecilia Beaux Forum
Portrait Society of America


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